Kuwait City: The UAE booked their place in the Gulf Cup of Nations final with a dramatic penalty-shootout victory against Iraq in Kuwait on Tuesday.
The UAE team, bidding for a third regional title, triumphed 4-2 from the spot after the match at Kuwait City’s Jabel Al Ahmad International Stadium had finished goalless.
Mohammed Barghash scored the deciding spot-kick following Iraqi misses from substitute Alaa Abdul-Zahra and Humam Tariq. The UAE, playing their first tournament with new manager Alberto Zaccheroni in charge, now face 2009 champions Oman in Friday’s final, in a repeat of last month’s Group A opener. They defeated Bahrain 1-0 in the evening’s other semi-final.
Despite the match containing few clear-cut chances, the UAE had the better marginally of the first half and really should have taken the lead just before the break. Having broken down Iraq’s left flank, Barghash advanced into the penalty area but, instead of pulling the ball back to a teammate, the full-back attempted to beat Jalal Hassan from an acute angle. The Iraq goalkeeper pushed the ball onto his near post; Ali Mabkhout and Omar Abdulrahman admonished Barghash for not passing.
The UAE had earlier had the ball in the back of the Iraq net, but defender Khalifa Mubarak had clearly fouled Hassan as the pair contested Abdulrahman’s lofted free kick. At the other end, Khalid Essa blocked Ali Husni’s close-range effort.