Thursday, 15 November 2012

Soria revives Qatar’s WC hopes

IKOLI VICTOR DOHA

SEBASTIAN SORIA scored a wonder goal to revive the hopes of Qatar qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup with a 1-0 victory over Lebanon on Wednesday.

The Lekhwiya striker charged the atmosphere at the Al Sadd Stadium with a sublime individual effort in the 75th minute as he took possession of the ball on the halfway line and ran into the heart of the Lebanese defence before he unleashed a shot from 30 metres that beat Abbas Hassan into top corner of the Lebanese net.

Soria’s glorious strike was his 27th international goal for Qatar in 69 appearances.

The goal was the perfect tonic to light up what had been a drab game up to that point. Qatar should have increased its tally when new entrant Lawrence Quaye drilled a shot that was excellently saved by goalkeeper Abbas.

Nevertheless, the visitors nearly snatched a late equaliser right at the end when the Lebanese Captain Roda Antar saw his stoppage- time effort brilliantly tipped aside by Qatar goalkeeper Qasem Burhan.

The win was Qatar’s second in the final round qualifiers and now with seven points they have levelled with Group A front-runners South Korea while Iran moved to the top of the group with eight points after Uzbekistan conceded a 90th minute goal in Tashkent.

Lebanon is now at the bottom of the group with four points after its second loss to Qatar following a 1-0 defeat in Beirut in June.

Speaking after the match, Qatar’s Coach Paulo Autouri said, “I want to congratulate the players for this victory because playing under this kind of pressure at home is not easy. They showed good character and displayed some of the tactics on training.

“The Lebanese team is good and they have shown good quality all through the qualifiers, “he added.

Lebanon’s Coach, Theo Bucker said, “Our expectation was to win the match but we lost to a better Qatar team.” Bucker blamed his strikers for their profligacy in front of the goal especially in the first half. “Our strikers didn’t play well; we were victim of our own loss. They played too much of short passes instead of shooting to goal.” There was little real quality on display in the first half as both teams struggled to find their rhythm. Qatar enjoyed plenty of early possession but was unable to find a way through the well-marshalled Lebanese defence as Soria found himself isolated upfront.

Lebanon dominated the early exchanges and had support from its teeming fans from the stands. They even had the best opportunity of the opening half in the 20th minute as Abbas Atwi fired a shot from 20 metres that forced a smart save from Burhan.

Ahmad Zreik’s effort in the 35th minute was almost into goal but for the quick reflexes of Burhan that produced a save.

Both sides were looking for a clear cut chance well into the second half as the time was ticking away. Yusef Ahmed had a glorious chance in the 71st minute after he was left unmarked on the edge of the box but he shot awkwardly to the chagrin of his coach, who threw up his hand in disgust.

However, just as the match seemed destined for a goalless draw, Uruguayan Soria rose to the occasion with a goal out of the blues.

He received the ball just inside his own half and made a 20-metre run before firing a superb shot that Hassan Abbas watched past him into the far corner of his net.

Qatar pressed on and should have scored one or two from Yusef Ahmed and Ibrahim Khalfan.

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