Qatar account for Iraq to reach Asian Cup quarters

Qatar’s Bassam Alrawi celebrates scoring the winner against Iraq, in Abu Dhabi. (Reuters)
Updated 22 January 2019

Qatar account for Iraq to reach Asian Cup quarters

  • Bassam Alrawi curled in a free-kick to take the Qataris into the last eight for a third time
  • It was Qatar’s fourth win in four games this tournament after topping their group

ABU DHABI: Qatar beat Iraq 1-0 in a full-blooded contest to reach the Asian Cup quarter-finals on Tuesday.
Bassam Alrawi silenced the doubters on 62 minutes when he curled in a free-kick to take the Qataris into the last eight for a third time.
It was Qatar’s fourth win in four games this tournament after topping their group and the least they deserved from a clash brimming with passion, if low on genuine quality.
Iraq, shock Asian Cup winners in 2007 and semifinalists four years ago, carried very little attacking threat until Atalanta’s Ali Adnan fizzed a free-kick just wide 12 minutes from time.
Seemingly more interested in snarling at the referee every time a decision went against them, Iraq ultimately paid for their lack of ambition.
At the final whistle, their players slumped to the turf.
Qatar enjoyed the best of the early skirmishes, Abdelkarim Hassan volleying against the bar before Hatim Abdelaziz missed a sitter on the stroke of half-time.
Sudan-born forward Almoez Ali, who needs one more goal to equal Iranian Ali Daei’s record of eight in a single Asian Cup, had a quiet night, keeping his powder dry for Friday’s quarter-final.


Free-scoring Salzburg pose serious threat to leaky Liverpool

Updated 10 December 2019

Free-scoring Salzburg pose serious threat to leaky Liverpool

  • Injury-hit Reds have consistently leaked goals despite streaking clear at the top of Premier League

LONDON: Liverpool travel to Salzburg on Tuesday needing to avoid defeat to the confident Austrian champions to guard against an embarrassing Champions League group stage exit for the holders.

Jurgen Klopp's men are used to getting through to the knockout stages the hard way. In each of the past two seasons they have needed home wins to secure a place in the last 16 before going on to make the final.

However, the specter of a free-scoring Salzburg, led by the Champions League's top scorer in Erlin Braut Haaland spells trouble for an injury-hit Liverpool backline that has consistently leaked goals this season despite streaking clear at the top of the Premier League.

The Reds' recorded a first clean sheet in 14 games in Saturday's 3-0 win at Bournemouth, but lost another center back as Dejan Lovren limped off in the first half.

Should the Croatian miss the trip to Austria, Joe Gomez will be Klopp's only fit partner for Virgil van Dijk in central defense.

Van Dijk narrowly missed out to Lionel Messi in the battle for the Ballon d'Or last week in recognition of the transformative effect he has had on Liverpool's fortunes over the past two years.

But even the towering Dutchman has been incapable of stopping the steady flow of goals against in recent months.

Injuries have meant there has been a constant rotation of Lovren, Gomez and Joel Matip alongside Van Dijk, while the attacking impetus offered by fullbacks Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold leaves space in behind to be exploited.

Goalkeeper Alisson Becker also missed the first two months of the season due to a calf injury to further unsettle the backline.

The Brazilian is now back, but another injury to Fabinho has robbed the back four of the best player to protect them in the holding midfield role.

"I forgot how it feels, to be honest," said Klopp on finally ending the long wait for a clean sheet at the weekend.

"It's great, we should have them more often. It was the most-used word in the dressing room by the boys — "clean sheet, clean sheet, clean sheet."

"Obviously everybody was desperate for that, now we have it so let's have it more often.

"The next game where a clean sheet would be useful is already around the corner, against Salzburg on Tuesday."

That is easier said than done as Liverpool know from their first meeting with Jesse Marsch's men in October.

The hosts seemed to be cruising to another Anfield win in the Champions League as they raced into a 3-0 lead, but Salzburg hit back to level at 3-3 before Mohamed Salah's winner ensured Liverpool edged a seven-goal thriller.

Salzburg have scored 87 goals in 24 games in all competitions this season, 28 of which have come from Norwegian wonderkid Haaland in just 21 appearances.

The 19-year-old started on the bench when the sides met at Anfield due to injury, but came on to inspire the visitors' revival in the second half and scored one of his eight Champions League goals.

"He's not the only threat from Salzburg but he's a proper one," said Klopp of the danger posed by Haaland ahead of the sides' first clash.

Salzburg need to win to make the last 16 on their first appearance in the group stage in 25 years.

A point would be enough for Liverpool to progress, but they need to win to secure top spot in Group E ahead of Napoli.

Given Liverpool's paucity of clean sheets and Salzburg's thirst for goals, attack would appear to be the best form of defencse for the European champions.