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Asian Cup: UAE rout Qatar 4-1 in Gulf derby

Last updated on: January 11, 2015 17:39 IST

Players react after a foul on Mohamed of the United Arab Emirates

Players react after a foul on Mohamed of the United Arab Emirates during the 2015 Asian Cup match against Qatar. Photograph: Stefan Postles/Getty Images

The United Arab Emirates gladly made the most of a woeful performance from Qatari goalkeeper Qasem Burhan to rout the Gulf Cup winners 4-1 in their Asian Cup opener on Sunday.

The experienced custodian was at fault for two of the UAE's goals and will have felt he could have done better with the third as the UAE stormed back from a goal down to open Group C with three well-deserved points.

Striker Ahmed Khalil pounced with two goals and Ali Ahmed Mabkhout also added a brace as they cancelled out Khalfan Ibrahim's neat opening strike for Qatar.

The match had been billed as the battle of two of Asia's finest playmakers but both had their disappointments, with Omar Abdulrahman having a quiet game and Khalfan being replaced with 30 minutes to go after fading following a bright initial burst.

Khalfan, the 2006 Asian Player of the Year, showed his class in the 22nd minute by chipping a lob over the backtracking Majed Naser into the net after the Emirati goalkeeper had come out to block an effort from striker Mohammed Muntari.

United Arab Emirates players celebrate a goal

United Arab Emirates players celebrate a goal . Photograph: Stefan Postles/Getty Images

The goal came against the run of play but they could have had a second shortly after when a mazy Khalfan dribble set up fullback Abdelkarim Hassan, but his low powerful shot found the side netting.

The defender was part of a comical defensive effort that led to the UAE equaliser, with Qatar bumbling a number of mistimed clearances and Qasem fumbling to allow Khalil to equalise in the 36th minute.

The striker in the right place to use his tummy to deflect in from close range after his initial header was fired back at him from Ibrahim Majed's goalline clearance.

Khalil bagged a second seven minutes after the halftime interval when he fired a free kick from the corner of the penalty area to the far post.

Senegal-born Qasem appeared unsighted by a flurry of defenders in front of him but the Qatari stopper should have been able to get a hand to the effort from an acute angle.

Qasem, named goalkeeper of the tournament when Qatar won the Gulf Cup last month, had no excuses for the UAE's third some four minutes later when he fumbled with Khamis Esmaeel's tame free kick straight back in front of goal with Ali Ahmed Mabkhout smashing home.

Mabkhout added a fourth on the break with a minute remaining, firing in at the near post past a broken Qasem to complete the rout.

UAE will next play Bahrain in Canberra on Thursday, while Qatar head to Sydney to take on Iran the same day.

Hajsafi stunner highlights Iran's 2-0 win over Bahrain

Ehsan Haji Safi of Iran

Ehsan Haji Safi of Iran celebrates after he scored the opening goal. Photograph: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

Ehsan Hajsafi and Masoud Shojaei each scored volleyed goals to fire Iran to an emphatic 2-0 win in their Asian Cup opener against Bahrain in Melbourne on Sunday.

Utility player Hajsafi struck a brilliant, blistering volley from outside the area a minute into stoppage time of the first half.

Midfielder Masoud Shojaei netted a far less elegant shot in the 71st minute that nonetheless sealed the match for Team Melli in front of a boisterous crowd of Iranian fans at the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium.

Bahrain, ranked 122nd in the world and outgunned by Iran's playmakers, battled hard but will rue the loss of a gilt-edged chance early to midfielder Sayed Shubbar who headed a shot over the bar when unmarked in the area.

Hajsafi's goal, however, may be among the finest of the tournament when it ends with the final on January 31.

Controlling a rebound out of goal from a setpiece, the seasoned 24-year-old hammered the ball with his right foot into the top-right corner of the net, raising thunderous cheers from a 17,000 crowd dominated by Irani fans.

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