- Iraq come from behind to beat Vietnam in thrilling match
- Ali Adnan scores winning free-kick in final minute
- Saudi Arabia comfortable winners against Korea DPR
Iraq star Ali Adnan scored a sumptuous free-kick in the 90th minute to bring the Lions of Mesopotamia all three points in a fascinating back-and-forth duel with Vietnam in Group D. In the day’s other match, four different goalscorers helped Saudi Arabia cruise to a comfortable 4-0 victory over Korea DPR in Group E.
Iraq 3-2 Vietnam, Group D
Zayed Sports City Stadium, Abu Dhabi
Tuesday saw perhaps the most entertaining group stage match of UAE 2019 thus far. Iraq came from behind twice and ultimately grabbed all three points thanks to Adnan’s superb free-kick at the death.
Vietnam took the lead through an own goal by Ali Faez Atiyah in the 24th minute only for Mohanad Ali Kadhim to bring Iraq level just over ten minutes later. Nguyen Cong Phuong then put the AFF Championship winners back in front right before the break, showing his quick instincts to bundle home a rebound.
Humam Tareq Faraj brought Iraq level 15 minutes into the second half with a close-range deflected shot, setting the stage for Adnan to complete Lions of Mesopotamia’s impressive comeback in style with a well-placed, curling free-kick beyond the reach of keeper Dang Van Lam.
Iraq clinched a 2-0 win in the sides’ only previous Asian Cup encounter in 2007, the tournament they went on to lift the trophy.
The Vietnamese now face the uphill task of facing IR Iran on 11 January, while Iraq will play Yemen on the same day.
Saudi Arabia 4-0 Korea DPR, Group E
Rashid Stadium, Dubai
Goals from Hatan Bahbri and Mohammed Al-Fatil before the break, followed by strikes from captain Salem Al Dawsari and Fahad Al Muwallad saw Juan Antonio Pizzi’s Saudi Arabia start their UAE 2019 campaign off brightly in Group E.
The result will go a long way in helping the Green Falcons progress beyond the group stage after failing to get to the knockout rounds in the previous two editions of the tournament.
For Korea DPR the result adds to their unwanted run of losing ten of their last 12 matches at the Asian Cup. The Koreans are still waiting for their first win at the continental tournament since 1980. They will look to bounce back when they face Qatar on 12 January. Saudi Arabia meet Lebanon next on 11 January.