Iraq beat Uzbekistan to claim AFC U-16 Championship semi-final spot


Goa: Mohammed Dawood scored a brace as Iraq edged out Uzbekistan 2-0 in the quarter-finals of the AFC U-16 Championship India 2016 on Monday.

Iraq started positively at GMC Stadium, and went a goal up after just six minutes as Dawood put Qahtan Chitheer’s side in front and the West Asians hit the woodwork three times in quick succession early in the second half.

And Dawood cemented his hero status as he netted his second on the 78th minute, shortly before Shukhrat Nematov was dismissed, as Iraq secured qualification for the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup also to be held in India.

The match began in open fashion and Iraq needed just six minutes to break the deadlock.

Winger Muntadher Mohammed, who has shone at the tournament so far, delivered in from the left and after ‘keeper Abduvakhid Nematov failed to clear the cross Dawood was on hand at the back post to header home.

On the half-hour mark, Dawood was denied his and Iraq’s second following a fine save from Abduvakhid Nematov after the midfielder had gone through on goal.

Dawood did try to return Mohammed’s earlier favour before half-time as he found the wide player with a deep cross of his own but the chance was spurned as the ball blazed over.

The second half began in explosive fashion as Iraq hit the woodwork three times in the opening five minutes.

From Mohammed Ridha’s corner the ball bounced off defenders and attackers alike before ricocheting off the right-hand upright.

And then in Iraq’s very next attack Ridha’s shot was parried by Abduvakhid Nematov only as far as the following up Alaa Adnan who hit the post, with Ridha having a second bite of the cherry and this time hitting the crossbar.

Uzbekistan tried to punish Iraq’s profligacy immediately but Doniyor Abdumannopov’s left-footed 20-yard effort flew narrowly wide.

On 55 minutes, Dawood was again prevented from completing his brace courtesy of a sprawling save from Abduvakhid Nematov as the action went from end-to-end.

With 15 minutes remaining, Dawood saw another chance go begging as he headed over from Mohammed’s cross as both sides looked to score the game’s crucial second goal.

But just three minutes later the same player made the breakthrough his efforts had warranted as he looped a header over Abduvakhid Nematov after substitute Ali Kareem had found his countryman inside the area.

And a miserable night for the Uzbeks was capped off in the final 10 minutes as substitute Shukhrat Nematov was sent off after receiving a second yellow.

(Credits: AFC Media)

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