Hosts UAE stunned holders Australia after Ali Mabkhout gratefully accepted a gift from Milos Degenek, sending the former through to Asian Cup 2019’s semi-finals with a surprise 1-0 victory.
Buoyed by a cauldron atmosphere at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium, the Socceroos dominated possession and attempts on goal against the side they defeated in 2015’s last-four. But their inaccuracy at both ends on Friday night proved critical when Al Hilal new boy Degenek’s shocking back pass under pressure from substitute Mohamed Abdulrahman allowed the previous edition’s top scorer, Mabkhout, to round goalkeeper Mathew Ryan and slot into an open goal on 68 minutes.
Alberto Zaccheroni’s Whites then defiantly held out, even after 10 minutes of added time. They will now meet Qatar on Tuesday at Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium.
Here are the player ratings:
Khalid Essa – 7: Al Ain goalkeeper was not unduly worked on home soil. The comically wasteful Socceroos produced just two shots on target from 22 attempts.
Mohamed Ahmed – 5: Crunched into a challenge out wide early on and was substituted for Al Jazira youngster Khalifa Al Hammadi. Let’s hope the injury is not too serious.
Ismail Ahmed – 8: Towering. As always. When Australia went long, the Al Ain stalwart was there to nod the ball to safety.
Fares Juma 7: On the ground he used to call home, the Al Jazira centre-back fitted in seamlessly for the injured Khalifa Mubarak. Made one acrobatic clearance in the first half, plus – questionably – returned to the pitch when apparently concussed.
Walid Abbas – 7: A first run-out at Asian Cup 2019, predictably, did not unsettle the Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club stalwart. Can always be relied upon to perform.
Majed Hassan – 7: Was saved by the linesman’s flag after a sloppy second-half giveaway. Other than that, injected much-needed energy into the UAE XI.
Ali Salmeen – 6: The Al Wasl man’s passing wasn’t always crisp. But he sensed danger on the pitch and plugged essential gaps.
Bandar Al Ahbabi 5: Pushed up from right-back to fit it more-defensively minded Al Ain club-mate Mohamed Ahmed. Did a job, without excelling.
Ismail Matar – 5: At 35-years old, the Al Wahda and UAE icon still exhibited a few nice touches. Was hooked shortly after half-time for Mohamed Abdulrahman.
Ismail Al Hammadi – 5: Another frustrating match for the Shabab Al Ahli winger. Missed a glaring opportunity in the 21st minute when he expertly dribbled past Milos Degenek, yet shot straight at Mathew Ryan.
Ali Mabkhout – 7: A curious tournament continues for the 2015 edition’s leading marksman. Wasted a few good chances and touch was awful, but gobbled up Degenek’s shocking back-pass. That’s four goals in five games in 2019.
Khalifa Al Hammadi – 7: The 20-year-old was thrown on after Mohamed Ahmed’s injury. Just like at the 2017 Club World Cup, was undaunted upon his competitive international debut.
Mohamed Abdulrahman – 7: Essential pressure on Degenek handed Mabkhout a gift. Injured superstar brother Omar would have loved that, watching from near the dugout.
Saif Rashid – N/A: Sharjah winger was thrown on to wind down the clock and offer a threat on the break.
Mathew Ryan – 7: Brighton & Hove Albion goalkeeper was left stranded by Degenek’s moment of madness. Otherwise, stood tall to deny Al Hammadi.
Rhyan Grant – 7: Offered a constant outlet on his flank. The tournament’s outstanding right-back enhanced his reputation.
Trent Sainsbury – 7: His standing as the continent’s outstanding centre-back was not unduly harmed as he kept Mabkhout at arm’s length. PSV Eindhoven star could do nothing about the goal.
Milos Degenek – 3: A poor tournament reached its nadir when he panicked when harried by Mohamed Abdulrahman and put Mabkhout in the clear. Al Hilal might want to check the return policy for their new signing.
Aziz Behich – 6: PSV left-back was dependable without ever excelling. Story of his Socceroos career, by and large.
Jackson Irvine – 5: Arnold had a choice between Irvine’s energy and Luongo’s accuracy. Went for the former, without gaining reward.
Mark Milligan – 5: The ex-Bani Yas player was not at his best. Failed to enhance Australia’s build-up play.
Chris Ikonomidis – 5: Has been one of the tournament’s outstanding players and an assist machine. Was unable to get going on Friday evening after his swap to the right flank.
Robbie Kruse – 5: His status as an XI pick appeared to have been ended by Awer Mabil. Arnold’s decision to swap the two around did not come off.
Apostolos Giannou – 7: The AEK Larnaca forward justified his place in the side. Slotted in after the hour mark, only for linesman’s flag to intervene.
Jamie Maclaren – 4: Exits the tournament with one goal to his name. The Hibernian loanee is not the answer to Australia’s problems up top. Not by a long way.
Mathew Leckie – 6: Hertha Berlin winger was narrowly offside for Giannou’s ‘opener’. Made a difference.
Awer Mabil – 6: Why didn’t he start?
Andrew Nabbout – N/A: First minutes of tournament after injury. Improved side.
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