Qatar kept alive their slim hopes of making the 2014 World Cup finals with a 1-0 win over Lebanon in their Group A qualifier on Wednesday.
A brilliant 75th minute strike from their Uruguayan-born striker Sebastian Soria gave Qatar three points which took the 2022 World Cup hosts’ tally to seven in the five-team group which also includes South Korea, Iran and Uzbekistan.
The Iranians host the Uzbeks later on Wednesday.
Lebanon are the only team Qatar have beaten in the final phase of qualifying, Wednesday’s win being their second over Theo Bucker’s side following their 1-0 victory in June where Soria had also scored.
Soria’s goal here was a terrific solo effort that began outside the Qatar penalty area saw him advance with the ball a considerable distance before his cracking 40-yarder slammed into the net stunning the Lebanon defence.
An ecstatic Soria ran up to the stands for an extended celebration with his family members.
Qatar could have doubled the margin a few moments later but the Ghana-born Lawrence Quaye found his shot, from a Soria pass, blocked by the Lebanon goalkeeper Abbas Hassan.
Qatar, however, survived a close shave later when veteran midfielder Roda Antar’s powerful drive brought out a splendid save from goalkeeper Qassim Burhan, his diving effort saving a sure-shot goal.
“This was a much needed win for us and thanks to Sebastian we are now alive in the qualifiers”
Qatar coach Paulo Autuori
Qatar had another chance to increase their lead in stoppage time in the second-half but Quaye’s shot from outside the penalty area went wide.
“This was a much needed win for us and thanks to Sebastian we are now alive in the qualifiers,” said Qatar coach Paulo Autuori.
“We should have played much better but a win is a win,” the Brazilian said.
Lebanon coach Bucker was in awe of Qatar’s facilities, complaining before the match that his team only had one natural grass ground to train on back home.
But on Wednesday he offered no excuses, praising Soria’s strike, which proved the difference between the two teams.
“The match could have gone anyway but Soria’s goal proved decisive. You cannot do anything in such a situation.”