ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraq beat opponents Yemen 3-0 on Saturday to qualify for the knockout stages of the 2019 Asian Cup.
The Iraqis got off to a lightning start after striker Mohanad Kadhim’s mazy dribble ended with the ball in the back of the net to give Iraq the lead in the 11th minute.
Bashar Resan added a second eight minutes later with a curling effort past the helpless Yemen goalkeeper to give Iraq a two-goal lead at half time.
Yemen offered little threat going forward in the second half, and it was Iraq who came close to adding a third with Kadhim’s effort rattling the post before substitute Alaa Abbas eventually made it 3-0 in stoppage time.
Elsewhere in Group D, Iran defeated Vietnam 2-0 to secure their spot in the knockout stages of the tournament.
Two goals from striker Sardar Azmoun in either half were enough to condemn Vietnam to their second defeat as they now face elimination from the Asian Cup.
Iraq’s final group match is against rivals Iran on Jan. 16 at 7 p.m. Erbil time.
The 2019 Asian Cup began on Jan. 5 and will continue until Feb. 1.
For the first time, Asia’s largest continental tournament includes 24 teams instead of the traditional 16-team format used in previous competitions.
Iraq’s most notable triumph at the international level came in 2007 when they were crowned Asian Cup champions, beating Saudi Arabia 1-0 in the final.
Iraq is 88th in FIFA’s world rankings (their highest ever rank was 39 in 2004).
They have failed to qualify for the FIFA World Cup since their maiden appearance at the Mexico 1986 tournament where they lost all three of their group matches.