Qatar edged past Ecuador 4-3 in an entertaining international friendly at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium yesterday.
Felix Sanchez’s men were rewarded for playing an aggressive game as they dealt with Ecuador’s physically strong players.
In the end it became an opening game, as both teams went all out on attack which thrilled the capacity crowd. For Qatar, Almoez Ali bagged a double, after Akram Afif had given the lead. Captain Hassan al-Haydos also found the net after converting a penalty.
Ecuador’s captain Enner Valencia had a dramatic game. The West Ham striker pulled two goals back for his side after he scored in the 66th and 71st minute, but was shown the red card in the dying minutes. Jose Cevallos also found the net in the 89th minute to make it an interesting few minutes but Qatar held on for the first win against the South Americans, who are ranked 58 to Qatar’s 94. Now, Qatar will travel to Tashkent to take on Uzbekistan in another friendly on Tuesday.
Yesterday, Qatar showed their attacking quality as Afif, Almoez and al-Haydous proved a constant threat to the opposition.
The hosts took the lead in the 32nd minute after a foul by Ecuador left-back Diego Palacios outside right flank gave them a free kick. Al-Haydous slammed the ball into the box, which deflected and found Afif, whose right footed shot perched to the centre of the goal.
Qatar’s second goal arrived just three minutes later, when Boualem Khoukhi found Almoez, who took a couple of touches and unleashed a long-ranger that beat Ecuador goalkeeper Alexander Carabali.
In the second half, Ecuador made a double substitution as Anebal Chala replaced Diego Palacios, while Angelo Preciado came in for Stiven Plaza. But it was Qatar who found the net again after Afif was fouled by Chala. Al-Haydous stepped in to take the penalty and easily slotted it past past Carabali to make it 3-0.
But Ecuador bounced back through their captain Valencia, who scored a stunning goal in the 67th minute. But Qatar restored their three-goal advantage as Almoez was quick to pounce on a defensive lapse and scored his second goal of the night.
Ecuador, however, allowed back into the game as Qatar players went on a snooze. Qatar goalkeeper Youssef Hassan took a long time to clear the ball and Valencia seized the opportunity to pounce on the ball and shoot it on to empty net. In the 89th minute, Ecuador made it 2-4 after Cevallos tapped in from close range after an assist by Robert Arboleda.
But the visitors ran out of time in pursuit of an equaliser even as referee waved off the appeals for a penalty after a handball on Qatar defender Bassam Hisham.
This is Qatar’s third consecutive win after they had beaten China and Maldives last month. They now travel to Tashkent as they continue their preparation for prestigious Asian Cup in January next year. Qatar are also scheduled to meet Switzerland and Iceland in friendlies in November.
© Gulf Times Newspaper 2019