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UAE bounce back with 4-0 win over Malaysia in World Cup qualifier


Last updated on June 3, 2021 at 11.28 pm
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Needing a win to keep their slim World Cup qualifying chances alive, the UAE reaped the fruits of a magnificent display from the prolific Ali Mabkhout and the dazzling Fabio Lima, putting Malaysia to the sword with a comprehensive 4-0 win in their Group G qualifying clash at the Zabeel Stadium on Thursday.

With Thailand missing a chance to consolidate their position in the points table after a 2-2 draw against the bottom-placed Indonesia in the other match of the night in Dubai, the UAE now have moved up to second place with nine points.

The Whites, Malaysia and Thailand have earned nine points each, but Bert van Marwijk’s men now find themselves in the second place behind leaders Vietnam, thanks to their superior goal difference.

It was Ali Mabkhout and Fabio Lima who scored two goals each to revive the UAE’s hopes of reaching the next round of the World Cup qualifiers.

It was also a night to remember for Ali Mabkhout as the 30-year-old striker took his goals tally to 73, eclipsing the incomparable Lionel Messi and Indian captain Sunil Chhetri to become the second active highest goal-scorer in international football.

Only the peerless Cristiano Ronaldo (103) has scored more goals on the international stage than Ali Mabkhout among the active players.

After a nervous start, the UAE began to take control of the midfield and it was in the eighth minute of the match that the home team had their first shot on target.

After an impressive build-up in the final third, Khalfan Mubarak Al Rezzy’s delightful pass found Khalil Ibrahim Al Hammadi inside the box, but the Al Wahda midfielder’s right-footer was blocked by the Malaysian goalkeeper Farizal Marlia.

That incisive move failed to produce a goal, but it inspired The Whites to turn on the style.

And Van Marwijk’s team were eventually rewarded in the 19th minute when Abdalla Ramadan sent a long ball to Ali Mabkhout.

The striker controlled the ball with a sumptuous first touch while losing his marker, before chipping the ball over the advancing goalkeeper to the find the back of the net.

The home team’s dominance in the midfield allowed their right flank to send those teasing crosses, but the final touch let the team down in the box.

If the UAE ended the first half in fine fashion, the start to the second half was even more impressive as their range of passing ran the Malaysians ragged.

In search of that second goal, the UAE came at the Malaysian defence in waves as the South East Asian team looked bereft of ideas in the face of relentless aggression from Van Marwijk’s men.

In the 62nd minute, it was Ali Mabkhout again with a chance. With magnificent footwork, the striker found some space inside the box, but could not find the target from a tight angle.

Three minutes later, Ali Mabkhout was in the thick of things again as his tireless running and brilliant skills released Khalil Ibrahim Al Hammadi Caio whose cross found Fabio Lima only for the latter to send the ball harmlessly over the cross bar.

Two more easy chances were missed as Khalil Ibrahim Al Hammadi Caio’s shot from inside the box was deflected by a Malaysian defender for a corner in the 78th minute.

Then two minutes later, Ali Mabkhout uncharacteristically showed indecisiveness after beating the off-side trap, missing a glorious one-on-one chance against the Malaysian goalkeeper.

Eventually, it was Fabio Lima who scored with a magnificent, curling left-footer from a tight angle in the 83rd minute, after yet another stupendous move from the middle of the park.

The UAE then inflicted two more painful blows on their opponents with Ali Mabkhout’s fierce right-footer finding the back of the net in the 91st minute before a dazzling passage of passing saw Fabio Lima score his second of the night with a simple finish from inside the box.

Results

Group G

Thursday

UAE 4 Malaysia 0

Indonesia 2 Thailand 2

Remaining

June 7

UAE vs Thailand

Zabeel Stadium

Vietnam vs Indonesia

Maktoum Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Stadium

Both matches start at 8:45pm

June 11

UAE vs Indonesia

Zabeel Stadium

Malaysia vs Vietnam

Maktoum Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Stadium

Both matches start at 8:45pm

June 15

UAE vs Vietnam

Zabeel Stadium

Thailand vs Malaysia

Maktoum Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Stadium

Both matches start at 8:45pm

Rituraj Borkakoty A big fan of the Argentina national football team, Rituraj generally writes on sports. But he deeply cherishes the time he spent with his favourite musician from Assam, India, for an interview. And he loves to bring human interest stories to Khaleej Times readers.