Iraq Stun Saudi Arabia to Dominate Asia

Iraq become the champions of Asia for the first time ever after they downed Saudi Arabia 1 – 0 in their 2007 Asian Cup final match at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Indonesia on Sunday.

Iraq's skipper Younis Mahmoud heads the winning goal

Iraq's skipper Younis Mahmoud capitalized on a poor piece of goalkeeping by Yaser Al Mosailem to turn in Hawar Mohammed’s corner 19 minutes from time, giving the Middle Eastern side their first ever AFC Asian Cup crown.

The first half was a rowdy affair with Australian referee Mark Shield showing a total of five yellow cards.

Munir was the first player into the referee’s notebook for a sliding two-footed challenge on Abdulrahman Al Qahtani after nine minutes, while Saudi midfielder Saud Khariri was booked six minutes later for a body check on Mahdi Karim.

Karrar Jassim was also given a yellow card midway through the half after tugging back Khariri but the Iraqi midfielder showed his class in the 28th minute when he weaved his way between Ahmed Al Bahari and Khaled Aziz on the left flank before firing in a stinging shot that was turned aside by goalkeeper Yaser Al Mosailem at the near post.

The match threatened to boil over in the 37th minute when Mahmoud went down in the Saudi box clutching his face after an altercation with Waleed Jahdali. Referee Shield managed to defuse the situation and booked both players.

The Saudis had few chances in the opening half but proved dangerous on the counterattack with their best opportunity coming a minute before the break when Yasser Al Qahtani surged into the Iraqi box and stepped past Jassim Ghloam before a sliding challenge by Bassim Abbas deflected the Saudi skipper’s shot over the crossbar.

The second half began quietly but sparked back into life in the 57th minute when Nashat Akram sent an excellent pass to Mahmoud, only for the Iraqi captain to be denied by Waleed Jahdali’s sliding challenge.

Taiseer Al Jassam went close for the Saudis on the hour with a shot on the turn that forced an excellent flying save from goalie Noor Sabri, but it was the Iraqis who looked the more dangerous team.

Iraq's skipper Younis Mahmoud (center, in white) holds the 2007 Asian Cup up high after his team downed Saudi Arabia 1 - 0 in Indonesia

A quick counter-attack in the 62nd minute saw Mahdi Karim release Mahmoud on the right side of the box but Al Mosailem stopped the initial shot and also turned aside Akram’s follow-up attempt.

However Iraq’s pressure would finally be rewarded in the 71st minute when Hawar Mohammed’s corner from the right was badly misjudged by Al Mosailem, who allowed the ball to sail over his outstretched glove and right onto the head of a lurking Mahmoud, who headed home at the far post.

With the Saudis unable to muster a shot on goal in the closing minutes, the Iraqis were able to hold on to complete a historic triumph. 

By Hoang Uy

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