Doha, February 7: The final of the AFC Asian Cup 2023 is poised to be a spectacle of football prowess and determination as Qatar secured their spot following a thrilling 3-2 victory against the Iran in their semi-final clash on Wednesday. The stage is now set for an epic battle as Qatar prepares to face Jordan, who earned their place with a stunning 2-0 triumph over Korea Republic in their semi-final encounter. Lionel Messi Draws Blank Coming From Bench As Inter Miami Loses Club Friendly Match Against Vissel Kobe in Penalty Shootout.
Team Melli made a spectacular start with Sardar Azmoun's early goal in the fourth minute, showcasing their intent to dominate the game. However, Qatar quickly responded, leveling the score in the seventeenth minute with Jassem Gaber's deflected shot.
As the match progressed, Iran continued to assert control with Qatar relying on counter-attacks to create opportunities. Akram Afif and his teammates displayed resilience and determination, constantly challenging Iran's defense. Afif's crucial goal just before halftime in the 32nd minute gave Qatar the lead, setting the stage for a tense second half.
Iran wasted no time in the second half, swiftly equalizing through a penalty converted by Jahanbakhsh. Qatar’s response was almost immediate, but for the heroics of Beiranvand who pulled off a smart save near his post to deny Abdurisag with Shojae Khalilzadeh then making a goal-line clearance of Pedro Miguel’s header from the subsequent corner.
Having had to rely on counter attacks for glimpses at goal, Qatar burst into life in the 82nd minute when Abdulaziz Hatem laid the ball to an unmarked Ali, who had ample time to pick his spot before slotting home, the goal taking his overall tally to 11 as he moved into second place in the all-time topscorers list.
Thirteen minutes of additional time gave Iran hope, but a surging Afif run was checked by Khalilzadeh, with a VAR review replacing an initial yellow card to red.
Even then, Iran twice came close to drawing level, Jahanbakhsh's attempt hitting the left upright and Barsham getting his palm to a goalmouth scramble as Qatar held on for victory.
Qatar, the defending champions, will be aiming to etch their names in history by clinching a second successive title. Their remarkable comeback against Iran showcased their resilience and determination, setting the stage for a potential back-to-back triumph reminiscent of Japan's feat in the past.
On the other hand, Jordan finds themselves in uncharted territory, making their maiden appearance in the AFC Asian Cup final. Head coach Hussein Ammouta's squad has been a revelation throughout the tournament, defying expectations and steadily progressing with each match. Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al-Nassr Signs Deal With Adidas Until 2027.
Despite their lack of previous final experience, Jordan has proven themselves as formidable contenders, displaying commendable strength and skill on the field. With their campaign reaching its pinnacle, they are fueled by a burning desire to seize the coveted trophy and etch their names in the annals of football history.
(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Feb 08, 2024 09:16 AM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).