ABU DHABI • Qatar, 2022 World Cup hosts, cruised into Friday's Asian Cup final against Japan in style, still yet to concede in six matches after a 4-0 rout of hosts United Arab Emirates yesterday.
The opener came on 22 minutes when goalkeeper Khalid Eisa let a seemingly harmless Boualem Khoukhi shot from the edge of the box sneak under his hands.
Almoez Ali doubled the lead on 37 minutes with his eighth goal of the tournament, a curler into the bottom corner that equalled the record by Iranian legend Ali Daei in 1996.
In the 81st minute, Hassan Al-Haydos broke away and dinked the ball over the goalkeeper.
Then UAE's Ismail Ahmed was sent off for an off-the-ball elbow after Mexican referee Cesar Ramos reviewed the incident on the pitch-side monitor.
Hamid Ismail completed the rout three minutes into stoppage time in a two-on-three counter.
The clash at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium was played under a cloud of political dispute in the Gulf. The UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt have imposed a diplomatic, trade and transport boycott of Qatar since June 2017 over allegations Doha supports terrorism, a charge Qatar denies.
Qatar faced a hostile crowd at the sold-out 43,000-seat stadium in Abu Dhabi, where the emirate's sport authority offered free tickets to UAE fans.
Qatari nationals, who previously travelled freely in the Gulf, cannot enter the UAE unless they receive a special permit. But the team have had support from some Omanis, whose country has taken a neutral stand in the row.
United Arab Emirates 0
Japan beat Iran 3-0 on Monday and are now seeking their fifth title, while Iran coach Carlos Queiroz has said he was standing down after nearly eight years.
The former Real Madrid coach had been hoping to deliver Iran's first continental title since 1976 but Japan scored three second-half goals to send them crashing out.
"I think the simplest thing to do is to copy the famous song: 'And now, the end is here'," the 65-year-old Portuguese said, misquoting the famous Frank Sinatra song, My Way.
"I'm very happy and very proud because I did it my way.
"A huge, huge thank you to my players for everything. Taking into account the difficulties... They are going to be in my heart for the rest of my life."
Queiroz, who has been linked with Colombia, took Iran to the World Cup Finals twice, earning one win in six matches.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE