The UAE made it two wins from two at the beginning of the Fifa Arab Cup with a late, late 1-0 victory against Mauritania in Qatar on Friday night.
The national team, who opened their Group B account last Tuesday with a 2-1 triumph against Syria, had to rely on substitute Khalil Ibrahim’s injury-time header at Stadium 974 in Doha to seal the points.
The UAE had earlier had a brilliant overhead-kick goal from Ali Saleh disallowed on 70 minutes for a marginal offside - replays appeared inconclusive - while Mauritania goalkeeper Mbacke Ndiaye was named man of the match for a fine display in repelling the UAE attack.
At the other end, Bert van Marwijk’s men very nearly conceded in the 88th minute, only for defender Mohammed Al Attas to clear the ball to prevent what seemed a certain goal.
The win keeps the UAE on track for the quarter-finals, moving them top of the group after Tunisia lost 2-0 to Syria, also on Friday. The UAE round off their pool against Tunisia at Al Thumama Stadium in Doha on Monday. Meanwhile, Syria take on Mauritania at the same time in Al Wakrah having breathed fresh hope into their chances of qualification. Although third, they sit level on three points with second-placed Tunisia.
The top two teams from each of the four groups advance to the last eight, which is played December 10 and 11.
Elsewhere, Qatar became the first team to book a spot in the quarter-finals with an even-later victory against Oman in Al Rayyan. The tournament hosts, the reigning Asian champions, needed a 97th-minute own goal from Issam Al Sabhi to seal a 2-1 win and secure progression.
With a 100 per cent record, Qatar top Group A by four points from second-placed Iraq. Iraq were held to a goalless draw on Friday by Bahrain.