Asian Cup: Marksman Ali Mabkhout fires UAE to third
Ali Mabkhout put one hand on the Asian Cup top-scorer award on Friday as the United Arab Emirates came from behind to beat 10-man Iraq 3-2 in an entertaining third-place play-off.
The Al Jazira marksman took his tally for the competition to five with a nerveless second-half penalty, putting him a goal ahead of partner Ahmed Khalil who grabbed a brace.
Khalil opened the scoring on 16 minutes, sliding the ball past goalkeeper Mohammed Hameed to complete a blistering counter-attack sparked by midfield wizard Omar Abdulrahman.
It was the stand-in captain`s first goal since his double against Qatar in their opening Group C match, and the Emiratis were on top in the early stages with Abdulrahman again pulling the strings.
But on 28 minutes the momentum swung towards Iraq when Waleed Salim`s deflected shot from inside the box looped over goalkeeper Khalid Eisa and into the back of the net.
The Iraqis then took the lead three minutes before half-time, winger Amjed Kalaf slotting in a rebound from close range after Eisa parried Ahmed Yaseen`s powerful shot.
Younis Mahmoud, the hero of Iraq`s 2007 Asian Cup win, spurned a golden opportunity to extend the lead when he blazed wide when through on goal just after the restart.
And Iraq would rue that miss when on 51 minutes Abdulrahman chipped a trademark ball over the defence to Khalil, who finished with aplomb to make it 2-2.
UAE soon went 3-2 ahead when Mabkhout rolled in his penalty on 57 minutes, after being bundled over in the box by Ahmed Ibrahim who was sent off.
Ten-man Iraq worked tirelessly for the equaliser in the remaining half-hour but UAE held firm to finish the tournament on a high.
Mabkhout now has a strong chance of being crowned top scorer in the tournament, although Australia`s Tim Cahill will go into Saturday`s final on three goals.