Doha: Two quick goals from Hisham Ali in the first-half added time helped Qatar beat Lebanon in Group C of the AFC Under-19 Championship qualifiers at Grand Hamad Stadium in Doha on Monday.
Qatar are on three points and take on Iraq, who are also on three, to decide the group winners on Wednesday.
Qatar controlled the game in the opening 15 minutes without threatening much, but after that, it was Lebanon who had the upper hand in the first half.
Qatari goalkeeper Ahmed Al Bakheet surely would have heaved a sigh of relief when Lebanese forward Daniel Abu Fakher’s attempted cross from the right hit the top of the bar and bounced out of play in the 17th minute.
Two minutes later Qatar survived an even bigger scare as Lebanon’s left winger Khalil Bader made a surging run on the left and cut inside the area menacingly. Though his shot was blocked, the ball fell kindly for Abu Fakher who, however, failed to find the target from close range.
Qatar’s too had chances, but their efforts were not good enough to threat Lebanon goal.
But when it looked the teams would go into the halftime goalless, Qatar struck, twice.
Their first goal came after a mistake from Lebanon goalkeeper Antoine AlDouaihy, who failed to collect a cross from Hussein Fahes on the right. The ball fell invitingly for Hisham Ali who made no mistake with his shot.
A minute later Hisham doubled Qatar’s lead after a lightning counterattack.
Soon after the goal, Lebanon committed too many players for a freekick inside the Qatar area. But Qatar captain Fahes headed clear the ball, Hisham picked it up and found the speedy Abdul Rasheed who surged on the right before squaring it into to the area where Hisham was left with the simple task of slotting the ball into the empty net.
Qatar looked a totally different team in the second half with their attack looking dangerous all the time. Nasser Abdulsalam, Rasheed, Hisham all had chances to increase the lead but a combination of poor finishing and some desperate defending ensured the scoreline remained the same.
Qatar coach Bruno Miguel said he hoped his boys had found their rhythm as they look to top the group.
"I hope we have found the rhythm. It was the first game for us so we took a while to get going. We needed some time to get used to the competition while it was the second game for Lebanon.
"We will play to win against Iraq. We always play to win."