Record-breaker Almoez Ali stars in Qatar's historic win in Asian Cup final
Qatar carved out a piece of footballing history for themselves, winning the AFC Asian Cup for the first time after defeating Japan.
Qatar carved out a piece of footballing history for themselves, winning the AFC Asian Cup for the first time in a 3-1 upset win over four-time winners Japan in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
Qatar raced into the lead when Almoez Ali put the ball into the net in the 12th minute. Abdulaziz Hatem then doubled his country's tally in the 27th minute to put Qatar 2-0 up at half time.
Japan halved the deficit in the 69th minute through Takumi Minamino - the first goal Qatar had conceded in the tournament - but were a little unlucky in the 80th minute when the referee gave a penalty to Qatar for handball against Maya Yoshida after a video review.
Akram Afif put away the spot kick and capped an ultimately comfortable win for Qatar.
Almoez Ali - Most Valuable Player of Award
Almoez Ali scored with a spectacular overhead kick for a record ninth goal of the Asian Cup and became the first player to score nine goals at a single Asian Cup after being cleared to play just hours before kickoff following a UAE protest over his eligibility.
He also won Most Valuable Player of Award.
'One step more towards World Cup 2022'
The victory was celebrated wildly by thousands of Omanis who had turned out to support Qatar in the absence of their own fans, who were unable to travel because of a deep political rift with the UAE.
"Today we made history for our country, we need to be very proud about our achievement," said Qatar coach Felix Sanchez.
"This is one step more towards be ready for 2022 and represent Qatar as a very competitive team at the World Cup."
Qatar kept a record six clean sheets
Qatar had never before gone beyond the Asian Cup quarter-finals but they had scored 16 unanswered goals coming into the final and kept a record six clean sheets as they silenced the haters.
Saad Al-Sheeb - best goalkeeper
Though statistics suggest Qatar goalkeeper Saad Al-Sheeb was one of the tournament's most underemployed players, he quietly set a record six clean sheets at a single Asian Cup as the 2022 World Cup hosts stormed into the final.
While Al-Sheeb had the deckchairs out for much of the time behind a defence boasting Asian footballer of the year Abdelkarim Hassan and faced only 11 shots on target, he showed cat-like reflexes when called upon -- notably with two superb saves during Qatar's semi-final win over UAE.
As Qatar beat three former champions in Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Son Heung-min's South Korea without ever looking seriously stretched, Al-Sheeb provided an immovable last line of defence for the tournament's shock winners and unsurprisingly was voted best goalkeeper.