UAE send Australia crashing out of Asian Cup

United Arab Emirates’ defender Ismail Ahmed, left, and midfielder Majed Hassan after their victory over Australia at Hazaa bin Zayed Stadium, in Al-Ain. (AFP)
Updated 25 January 2019

UAE send Australia crashing out of Asian Cup

  • Ali Mabkhout poached a 1-0 win for UAE over Australia to set up a semifinal with Gulf rivals Qatar
  • Degenek, who this week signed for Saudi giants Al Hilal, rolled a casual ball to Ryan but Mabkhout nipped in and rounded the ‘keeper before scoring into an empty net

AL-AIN, United Arab Emirates: Asian Cup hosts UAE sent defending champions Australia crashing out in the quarter-finals on Friday.

Ali Mabkhout poached a 1-0 win for UAE over Australia to set up a semifinal with Gulf rivals Qatar.

Milos Degenek’s defensive mistake allowed UAE sharpshooter Mabkhout to pounce for a win that was greeted by joyous drumming and a sea of smartphone torches at a packed Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain.

Japan and Iran, with seven Asian Cup titles between them, will play the other semi as the 24-team continental showpiece nears its final in Abu Dhabi on February 1.

Graham Arnold’s Australia will feel aggrieved by their defeat after having the best of it against UAE, only to be undone by a single defensive error on 68 minutes.

Degenek, who this week signed for Saudi giants Al Hilal, rolled a casual ball to Ryan but Mabkhout nipped in and rounded the ‘keeper before scoring into an empty net.

Trent Sainsbury flashed a header over as Australia proved an early threat but UAE were also looking sharper than their previous games.

Mabkhout nearly connected with a header with the goal at his mercy, and Ismail Al-Hammadi forced a reaction save from Mat Ryan when one-on-one with the Brighton goalkeeper.

Apostolos Giannou saw a shot palmed away as Australia finished the first half strongly, but Mabkhout was inches away when his header just cleared the bar.

The second half was one-way traffic as Degenek and Jackson Irvine went close with headers, and Giannou had the ball in the net but the goal was chalked off for offside.

All Australia needed was a goal and there was disbelief when it went the other way as Mabkhout, a peripheral figure for most of the half, pounced on Degenek’s misplaced back pass.

Mabkhout’s ninth Asian Cup goal put him joint third in the all-time top-scorers list, alongside Japan’s Naohiro Takahara and behind only South Korea’s Lee Dong-gook with 10 and Iranian legend Ali Daei’s 14.


Title, not invincible tag, the most important goal for Salah

Updated 18 January 2020

Title, not invincible tag, the most important goal for Salah

LONDON: Mohamed Salah says Liverpool’s focus is solely on ending a 30-year wait to win the Premier League title, rather than doing so by going the whole season unbeaten.

Jurgen Klopp’s men have dropped just 2 points in 21 games to set a new record for Europe’s top five leagues of 61 points from a possible 63 to start the campaign.

That has propelled the European champions into a 14-point lead over title holders Manchester City with a game in hand, but Salah insists the Reds are still taking their title challenge one game at a time ahead of Manchester United’s visit to Anfield on Sunday.

“We don’t think about being unbeaten until the end of the season. If we do that, it would be great, but at the end of the day we just want to win the Premier League. That’s the most important thing,” Salah told Premier League Productions.

“Unbeaten or not, it’s not necessary — we want to win the Premier League.”

Liverpool could move a massive 30 points clear of United with victory on Sunday, but the Red Devils are the only side to take points off them this season after a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford in October.

Salah missed that match through injury and is keen to make up for lost time in the clash between English football’s two most successful sides.

“We need to win, we need to carry on in our way — the way we’ve been doing since the beginning of the season and since last year,” added the Egyptian.

“Of course we know it’s big for the fans, for the city and for us. But at the end of the day, we play the game to win.”