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Iraq make easy work of Yemen

IRAQ maintained their winning ways in the 21st Gulf Cup last night with a resounding 2-0 victory over Yemen at the Shaikh Khalifa Sports City Stadium in Isa Town.

Dhurgam Ismaeel and Hammadi Ahmed were both on target in an eventful first half as they lifted their side to their third impressive victory in as many games.

The win capped Iraq's stellar unbeaten run in the opening phase of the competition and it sent them through to the semi-final round as winners of group 'B'.

The Iraqis have a maximum nine points in first place on the division table, while Yemen ended their tournament campaign with zero markers having suffered their third successive defeat.

Kuwait were the team to advance with the Iraqis from group 'B'. They earned their spot after beating Saudi Arabia 1-0 in another match yesterday. The Kuwaitis finished with six points while Saudi were held to three.

Iraq were the heavy favourites heading into their clash with Yemen and they lived up to their billing from the very start.

Ismaeel put his team ahead 16 minutes into the contest with a swirling free kick from right outside the penalty area.

The talented young defender brilliantly swerved his shot around the Yemen wall and into the bottom-left corner of goal, stunning opposing goalkeeper Mohammed Ayyash.

The Iraqis weren't content with the one-goal advantage and they continued to press for a second goal to follow Ismaeel's opener.

Ahmed came through for the victors six minutes after the half-hour. The talented forward made a brilliant solo run in the right of the box and unleashed a fantastic low strike that left Ayyash no chance.

That put the Iraqis comfortably ahead but they did well not to relax over the remainder of the no-bearing contest. Hakaeem Shaker's men staved off any Yemeni advances, and were rewarded at the final whistle with their third clean sheet in a row.

Iraq are the only squad yet to concede a goal in this year's Gulf Cup.

They now move on to face home side Bahrain in the semi-finals on Tuesday. The match will be played at the National Stadium in Riffa and it is scheduled for a 7.45pm kick-off.

Prior to their game, the Kuwaitis take on group 'A' winners the UAE, another unbeaten squad, in the other final four encounter. That game is slated to get underway at 4.15pm.

The match for third place and championship game will both be held on Friday.



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