Al Ain: Qatar showed patience and maturity to pick up a 2-0 win over a determined and well-organised Lebanon at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium as Felix Sanchez’s side notched up an opening victory in Group E of the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 on Wednesday evening. Second-half goals from Bassam Al Rawi and Almoez Ali gave the 2022 FIFA World Cup hosts all three points at the end of a challenging encounter to move Sanchez’s team level on three points with Saudi Arabia at the top of the early standings.
Recently crowned AFC Player of the Year Abdelkarim Hassan was left on the bench by Sanchez as the Spaniard started Al Rawi at left-back, but the 25-year-old was to make an impact later in the game.
The two teams fought out a tight and absorbing opening quarter of the game, with few opportunities as the defences dominated. Indeed, it took until the 37th minute for fans of either side to have anything to cheer for when the Lebanese thought they had taken the lead.
Ali Hamam raced off to celebrate with his teammates after slotting Hassan Maatouk’s corner into the Qatari goal, only for the sound of the Lebanese fans to drown out referee Ma Ning’s whistle with the Chinese official blowing for a foul on Tarek Salman.
In an opening period of few chances, it was Lebanon who looked more likely to score, with Maatouk pulling the trigger on an effort of his own just before half-time, but his scissor kick flew high over the bar.