UAE striker Ali Mabkhout scored after 14 seconds in one of the fastest goals in Asian Cup history to propel his side towards a 2-1 win over Bahrain on Thursday.
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The Group C victory in Canberra marked the first time UAE had won their opening two matches at the tournament and put them on the verge of qualifying for the quarter-finals.
Omar Abdulrahman chipped a delightful ball over the top of Bahrain's defence and Mabkhout calmly controlled it with his right foot before slotting past goalkeeper Sayed Abbas with his left.
It was Mabkhout's third goal of the Asian Cup after a double in UAE's opening 4-1 win against Qatar Sunday, making him the tournament's top scorer.
Goals have been scored within a minute at the competition before, notably China's Xie Yuxin in 1992 and Kuwaiti Fat'hi Kameil in 1976, but Mabkhout's is one of the quickest on record.
UAE enjoyed more of the ball in the opening stages with midfield wizard Abdulrahman so often the instigator of UAE's attacking play.
But Bahrain gradually came into the match after the shock of conceding so early and always looked dangerous up front through Nigerian-born striker Jaycee Okwunwanne – nicknamed "Ronaldo".
UAE would rue that miss shortly afterwards when Okwunwanne got his reward for persistent badgering of the defence, scoring with a header at the back post from a corner on 26 minutes.
The start of the second half was less high-octane until Abdulrahman curled an indirect free-kick a fraction over on 61 minutes after Abbas picked up a back-pass.
UAE got their winner after 73 minutes when Bahrain captain Mohamed Hasan headed a free-kick into his own net.
Sardar Azmoun's brilliant solo goal earned Iran a 1-0 win over Qatar and a place in the Asian Cup quarter-finals alongside United Arab Emirates on Thursday.
Solid Qatari defending kept Iran at bay until shortly after half-time in Sydney when Azmoun's instinctive touch and shot ended their resistance and sent a partisan crowd wild.
Carlos Queiroz's Team Melli are now into the quarter-finals for the sixth time in a row and continue to look strong contenders to break their 39-year Asian Cup drought.
Iran looked to be running out of ideas until Azmoun lit up the Sydney evening and ignited the crowd with his fabulous touch and score on 52 minutes.
When former Fulham man Dejagah picked out Azmoun on the edge of the box, the 20-year-old still had much to do to evade the attentions of defender Abdelkarim Hassan.
But in a moment of supreme quality, he dragged the ball between his legs and into space in the box, before sweeping it into the bottom right-hand corner.
In a late scare, Ali Asadalla Thaimn hit Iran's post with an injury-time header but the effort was offside and Queiroz sank to his knees in joy as the final whistle blew.
Jordan lodged a formal protest yesterday after claiming a bungled doping test had made one of their players vomit.
Striker Ahmad Hayel could miss tomorrow’s game against Palestine after he was made to drink “several litres of water” as a result of being unable to provide a urine sample following Monday’s 1-0 defeat by Iraq.
It caused him to vomit and feel dizzy, according to the Jordanian FA and a team doctor said the test had to be cancelled.
The AFC insisted that the proper protocol had been followed, but Jordanian FA general secretary Fadi Zureikat said: “Ahmad Hayel arrived at the hotel after the doping test (in a) semi-coma, and with hypothermia. The doping control room was too cold. The player was given water to drink for four hours.
“Hayel began vomiting (and received) no medical care presence from the AFC. No ambulance was called for the player. He was suffering low blood pressure, and we had to take the player back to the hotel by private car, in a wheelchair, while he was unconscious.”
Jordan must beat Palestine to stay in the competition, while Japan can tie up top spot in the group with a win over Iraq.
But star player Keisuke Honda is taking nothing for granted. He said: “If we keep battling and go about things the right way the results will follow. We just need to focus on taking three points (against Iraq).”
Coach Djamel Belmadi deflected questioning about his future with trigger-happy Qatar as they face a must-win Group C game against heavyweights Iran at the Asian Cup.
The Algerian won the Gulf Cup with the future World Cup hosts in November but his Asian Cup plans threaten to unravel after last week’s 4-1 reverse to neighbours UAE.
Despite the Gulf Cup triumph Belmadi, who was appointed last March, will be aware of Qatar’s itchy trigger finger with 30 different coaches taking the hot seat since 1990.
“You would have to ask the Qatari football federation,” he said.
“I’m talking about the game ( against Iran). I don’t have anything to say about that.”
Belmadi said his biggest job had been to lift Qatar’s downcast players after they lost big to UAE despite opening the scoring through Khalfan Ibrahim.
“We played like a friendly game. It wasn’t our day. Especially after the good competition we had at the Gulf Cup, we expected something different,” he said.
“But now it’s in the past and we need a reaction. Of course we are all disappointed and the players more than anyone. They
have now the ambition to make a different game.”
Belmadi added that it was a “decisive” match for Qatar against Carlos Queiroz’s Iran, but said the task was not beyond his players.
“I know this group that I have. I chose them and I know that we are able to change things and I know that we can do much much better, even when things look difficult, for some people impossible. For us it’s not impossible,” he said.
Queiroz revealed he would not rotate his squad as he seeks to build some momentum.
“This will be the opportunity also to establish and keep the core of the team because we’ve not been playing so much,” said the Iran coach.
“Most of the players played for the first time together in the game against Bahrain so I need to take advantage of that situation.”