UAE boss Mahdi Ali was typically phlegmatic prior to Malaysia’s visit, insisting “there are no easy games in Asian or world football” anymore.
The 50-year-old’s pre-match comments risked seeming facetious as seven first-half goals in a 10-0 dismantling ensured the Whites began their 2018 World Cup qualifying double header in emphatic style. A much-sterner second-round test awaits on Tuesday in Palestine, yet this was the perfect preparation.
Ahmed Khalil got four and fellow striker Ali Mabkhout a hat-trick as the pair filled their boots, while midfielders Omar and Amer Abdulrahman delightfully created all but one of the goals to ensure the thrashing of Group A’s lowest-ranked side was conducted in a tasteful manner.
The only disappointment on a night when the national-record 12-0 destruction of Brunei from 2001 was threatened came in the small numbers which witnessed it, empty spaces dominating the sparsely-populated stands at Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium.
The ruthlessness of the display would have most impressed Ali, his side racking up the goals to consign memories of the trying 1-0 opening victory against Timor-Leste to the past.
Once the UAE got started, they couldn’t stop. Centre-back Mohanad Salem began the rout on 16 minutes, sticking out a long-limb to volley home Amer Abdulrahman’s chipped throughball from a half-cleared corner.
A wonderful first-time pass from the Bani Yas midfielder played in Mabkhout for his first, a horrendous fumble from hapless goalkeeper Khairul Fhami allowing him to tap into an empty net.
Khalil then volleyed in his first before Al Ahli team-mate Habib Fardan excellently drilled into the bottom corner for the fourth, providing a suitable ending to a wonderful move which began with a back-heel volleyed one-two between Omar Abdulrahman and Mabkhout.
The awful Fhami was taken out of the firing line on 29 minutes, one of three shot stoppers used by Malaysia coach Dollah Saleh in Abu Dhabi. His substitution made no difference seconds later as Khalil rose to powerfully head in Amer Abdulrahman’s wonderful outswinging corner to make it five.
— Matt Monaghan (@mattmonaghan360) September 3, 2015
Al Ain superstar Omar Abdulrahman was bringing out his full array of tricks, turns and spins. His assists for the next two goals to make it 7-0 at the break displayed him at his instinctive best.
An outside of the boot pass was first smashed into the roof of the goal by Mabkhout, prior to then setting rampaging right-back Mohammed Ahmed free to apply a low finish with aplomb on 39 minutes.
The pace understandably slow in the second half, Malaysia thankful to see only three further goals conceded.
Khalil got his hat-trick by rounding Khairulazhan bin Mohd Khalid – the third visiting keeper to feature after injury to Muhammad Zamir bin Selamat. Al Jazira star Mabkhout secured his trio on home soil as he fired into the bottom corner, Khalil robbing the ball from kick-off to end the massacre by smashing into the corner.
David De Gea trains with the Spain squad in Madrid, on the eve of his national side's Euro 2016 qualification Group C game with leaders Slovakia and a day after his proposed move from Manchester United to Real Madrid collapsed.