By Ahmed Maher
DOHA (Reuters) – Iraq scored two first-half goals to beat United Arab Emirates 2-0 at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha on Friday and secure their place in the Arabian Gulf Cup semi-finals.
Striker Alaa Abbas put Iraq ahead in the sixth minute, and skipper Alaa Abdul-Zahra doubled their lead in the 37th.
Manager Srecko Katanec’s team, who beat hosts Qatar 2-1 in their opening game, have six points and sit at the top of Group A, three points clear of the UAE and Qatar, who thrashed Yemen 6-0 with left-back Abdelkarim Hassan scoring a hat-trick.
Hassan, the best player in Asia in 2018, opened the scoring from close range after 29 minutes and the Al-Sadd player doubled the lead with a goal from outside the box in the 36th.
Almoez Ali, top scorer in the Asian Cup earlier this year, made it 3-0 in the 57th minute and Hassan completed his hat-trick from the penalty spot in the 72nd.
Substitute Abdullah Al-Ahrak added a fifth with a long-range effort in the 85th minute, and forward Akram Afif completed the rout in stoppage time.
Qatar will now meet the UAE on Monday, needing a draw to reach the semi-finals along with Iraq.
Yemen are bottom of the group with no points, and must continue their search for a first Gulf Cup victory.
(Writing by Ahmed Maher in Doha; Editing by Matthew Lewis)