Hosts UAE beat India 2-0 to go top of Asian Cup group

United Arab Emirates’ forward Ali Mabkhout al Hajjeri, left, is challenged by India’s defender Pritam Kotal during the AFC Asian Cup group A match between the UAE and India at Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi. (AP Photo)
Updated 11 January 2019
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Hosts UAE beat India 2-0 to go top of Asian Cup group

  • The Emirates, who salvaged a 1-1 draw in their curtain-raiser against Bahrain after a controversial late penalty, went top of Group A on four points
  • India, who finished runners-up on their Asian Cup debut in 1964, will still fancy their chances of reaching the knockout phase for the first time

ABU DHABI: Khalfan Mubarak and Ali Mabkhout were on target for United Arab Emirates as the Asian Cup hosts beat India 2-0 on Thursday to close on a spot in the last 16.
The Emirates, who salvaged a 1-1 draw in their curtain-raiser against Bahrain after a controversial late penalty last weekend, went top of Group A on four points from two games despite a hairy start in Abu Dhabi.
India captain Sunil Chhetri overtook Lionel Messi in international goals as the Blue Tigers stunned Thailand 4-1 in their opening game to earn comparisons with Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli for his heroics back home.
The veteran striker and Ashique Kuruniyan both forced smart saves from UAE goalkeeper Khalid Eisa before the home side drew first blood against the run of play.
Mubarak whipped the ball home from an acute angle four minutes before halftime for the Emirates, who were runners-up the last time the country hosted the Asian Cup in 1996.
Mabkhout sealed the points with a cool finish two minutes from the end — his 47th goal in 75 internationals — to give the scoreline a somewhat flattering complexion.
Until Mubarak’s strike — his first for his country — the 2015 semifinalists had been largely restricted to speculative pot shots that threatened little but the fleets of luxury cars in the stadium parking lot.
India pushed for the equalizer in the second half, Udanta Singh slamming a shot against the bar 10 minutes after the restart.
But India, who finished runners-up on their Asian Cup debut in 1964 when it was a four-team competition won by Israel, will still fancy their chances of reaching the knockout phase for the first time.
Thailand, sacked Serbian coach Milovan Rajevac after their humiliating loss to India, bounced back by beating Bahrain 1-0 in Dubai earlier on Thursday.


Brazil jeered again after 0-0 draw against Venezuela

Updated 12 min 54 sec ago
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Brazil jeered again after 0-0 draw against Venezuela

  • Brazil had two goals reversed by video review because of offside calls

SALVADOR: Brazil followed a lackluster win over Bolivia with a scoreless draw against Venezuela in the Copa America on Tuesday, prompting more jeers from local fans.

Brazil had two goals reversed by video review because of offside calls, one by Gabriel Jesus early in the second half and another by Philippe Coutinho near the end of the match.

Brazil played better than they did in the opener against Bolivia, but were not able to break through the stout Venezuelan defense at the Arena Fonte Nova. Despite the setback, the hosts stayed at the top of Group A with four points, tied with Peru, which earlier Tuesday defeated Bolivia 3-1 in Rio de Janeiro. Venezuela, which opened with a 0-0 draw against Peru, has two points.

The group will be decided on Saturday with Brazil facing Peru in Sao Paulo and Venezuela taking on Bolivia in Belo Horizonte. The top two teams in each group advance to the next round, along with the two best third-place finishers.

Brazil thought they had scored with substitute Gabriel Jesus shortly after halftime, but the goal was disallowed after a review showed that Roberto Firmino, who made the pass to the Manchester City striker, was offside when the ball deflected off a Venezuela defender. The Brazilians complained, arguing that it was a pass — not a deflection — by the defender.

Coutinho’s goal with about five minutes left in regulation was reversed because his close-range shot deflected off Firmino, who was in an offside position in front of the net. The goal would have stood had the ball not touched the Liverpool forward.

Firmino had a goal disallowed late in the first half for pulling a defender inside the area before he scored.

Brazil’s first goal in the 3-0 win over Bolivia on Friday had come from a penalty awarded by video review.

The team had been jeered by fans in Sao Paulo after a lackluster first half against the Bolivians, but this time the crowd of nearly 42,000 fans in Salvador started booing closer to the end of the match at the Arena Fonte Nova. They also chanted “ole, ole” as the Venezuelans exchanged passes near the end.

Many had also jeered coach Tite when he replaced Casemiro by defensive midfielder Fernandinho instead of an attacking player.

It was Venezuela which had the best scoring opportunity in the first half with a close-range header by striker Salomon Rondon that missed just wide.

Brazil nearly got the winner in second-half stoppage time with a header by Fernandinho that nearly found the far corner.

Brazil are seeking a ninth Copa America title. They won the tournament all four previous times it hosted the event, the last time in 1989.

Venezuela’s best Copa finish was a fourth place in 2011.