Under a packed but less than strenuous atmosphere in the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, it all came down which team wanted it more. Apart from the much needed desire to get through to the Finals, UAE lacked the creativity in offense with the squad oblivious in response to the Qatari onslaught.
While the Emirati’s were backed by their 12th man who were present in large numbers, the Maroons stole the show with some slick passing and eventually doing what was needed to move on to the Finals. One could envision the tension prior to the kick-off as the taunts of the fans shrouded the Qatari national anthem.
It was the Qataris that came out stronger off the whistle dipped Qatari toes in Emirati waters with an attempt by Salem Al-Hajri which was easily picked by keeper Khalid Eisa.
However, the air of surprise at the MBZ stadium turned to panic as the shot stopper made a mess of a similar attempt driven low by Boualem Khoukhi in the 22nd minute allowing the goal to go past through him easily giving Qataris the lead.
The tournament’s top scorer Almoez Ali got Qatar off to the perfect position increasing the lead before the half ended as he took advantage of some lax defending in the Emirati box, who allowed him to run in and curl one in past the outstretched keeper.
The Emiratis rarely threatened to find an equalizer with minimal shots at goal.
It was the Abyads who started in the front foot in the second half exhibiting levels of urgency with Mabkhout striking the ball directly at keeper Saad Al-Sheeb who was able to smack it over the bar for a corner.
The Emiratis came knocking once again in the 72nd minute as Bandar Al-Ahbabi’s cross open play found Ahmad Khalil in the box whose header was tipped over by the Al-Sheeb.
Captain Hasan Al-Haydos made it three for the Qataris and essentially sealed the win in the 80th minute with a cool-as-it-could-be lob over the onrushing Eisa after receiving an open ball thanks to some miscommunication between the Emirati center backs.
Embarrassingly enough UAE were reduced to ten men as Ismael Ahmad was dismissed from the pitch for a blatant and cheap elbow on Salem Al-Hajri with few minutes remaining to the final whistle.
Qatar added salt to the Emirati wounds as Hamid Ismaeil Khaleefa made it a perfect four after striking the ball past a helpless Eisa in extra time.
Qatar move on to face Japan on Friday at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi.