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AFC U23 Asian Cup: Qatar qualify for knockout stage after dramatic victory over Jordan

DOHA: Qatar secured their berth in the knockout stage of the 2024 AFC U23 Asian Cup with a thrilling 2-1 victory over Jordan at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in Doha on Thursday.

In a fiercely contested encounter, both sides appeared destined for a draw until Mohamed Manai’s dramatic header in the 13th minute of added time sealed Qatar’s triumph, making them the first team to progress from the group stage.

The match began with Jordan asserting early pressure, seeking their maiden win in the tournament following a draw against Australia. Baker Kalbouneh threatened Qatar’s defense with an early chance, only to be denied by a solid save. Despite Jordan’s dominance in possession, Qatar took the lead in the 40th minute through Abdulla Alyazidi’s fortuitous strike, breaking the deadlock against the run of play.

Undeterred, Jordan responded emphatically in the second half, capitalizing on a penalty awarded via VAR review to Aref Haitham, who expertly converted to restore parity. As the match approached its climax, both teams pressed for a decisive goal, with Jordan squandering a golden opportunity late in the game.

In a dramatic turn of events, Qatar clinched victory deep into stoppage time, as substitutes Jassem Alsharshani and Mohamed Manai combined effectively from a free-kick, culminating in Manai’s decisive header to secure all three points for the hosts, leaving Jordan shell-shocked. There was a lengthy review with the VAR scrutiny but Qatar’s goal was validated, with the hosts celebrating their triumph and qualification to the next stage.

Ilidio Valde’s Qatari team is now two wins away from qualifying for the Paris Olympics.

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