Hosts and holders Qatar squeezed into an Asian Cup final showdown with Jordan after beating Iran 3-2 with an 82nd-minute winner in a frenetic semi-final on Wednesday.
Almoez Ali struck in Doha to send Qatar into their second straight final, further exorcising the demons of their first-round exit at the 2022 World Cup. Qatar lost all three of their World Cup games on home soil just over a year ago, the worst record of any host in the competition’s history.READ MORE
But that was all a distant memory as they celebrated in front of over 40,000 fans after a breathless encounter at Al Thumama Stadium. Sardour Azmoun gave Iran the lead in the fourth minute before Qatar equalised soon after when Jassem Gaber’s shot went in via a heavy deflection.
Qatar’s Akram Afif then notched his fifth goal of the tournament with a wonderful strike minutes before half-time, only for Iran to equalise through an Alireza Jahanbakhsh penalty early in the second period.
Match-winner Ali scored an Asian Cup-record nine goals to lead Qatar to their first title in 2019 but he had managed only one heading into the semi-finals of this year’s tournament.