Hosts Qatar secured third place at the Fifa Arab Cup on Saturday by defeating Egypt on penalties in Doha.
The Gulf side, beaten by Algeria in extra-time in Wednesday’s semi-final, prevailed 5-4 in the shoot-out at Stadium 974 after the match had finished goalless following 120-plus minutes.
Goalkeeper Meshaal Barsham proved the difference on his country’s National Day, first keeping Egypt at bay throughout the encounter before saving Mohamed Sherif's sudden-death spot-kick.
Hassan Al Haydos had earlier missed from the spot — he even had the chance to retake — before Barsham brilliantly repelled Ahmed Hegazy and Sherif. Qatar, the reigning Asian champions, celebrated wildly once the result was sealed. Algeria and Tunisia contest the final later on Saturday.
“Happy National Day,” said Qatar manager Felix Sanchez immediately afterwards. “It was a very nice game, very long. At this stage of the competition it’s very difficult. But these players, they showed a commitment and they fight until the end and I think we all deserve it.
“We lost only one game in all the competition, in extra-time, [so] the minimum we deserve was to be No 3 in the tournament.”
After a prosaic first half, of which Egypt had the better control, Qatar should really have taken the lead on 47 minutes. Defender Boualem Khoukhi met Akram Afif’s free-kick at the back post and headed the ball across goal, only for Almoez Ali to somehow lift his effort over the crossbar. The Qatar striker, with three goals in the tournament already, was two yards out.
At the other end, Egypt midfielder Hamdy Fathy’s header forced a fine reaction save from Barsham, while Sherif was unable to turn home the rebound.
It took another expert stop from Barsham to prevent Egypt from snatching a winner in the closing stages of normal time. In this instance, Fathy had played in Sherif, but the Egypt striker saw his low shot saved.
Not long into extra-time, substitute Akram Tawfik stung Barsham’s palms with a dipping half-volley from range. Moments later, Barsham pulled off another brilliant low save, pushing away Mostafa Fathi’s rebound. Barsham would have breathed a sigh of relief: he had initially pushed Marwan Hamdy’s shot right into Fathi’s path.
In the shootout, Al Haydos missed the opening spot-kick, but the referee judged — correctly — that goalkeeper Mohamed El Shenawy had moved too far from his line when making the save. Reprieve granted, Al Haydos then blazed the retake wide.
However, Qatar pulled level soon after when Barsham saved superbly from Hegazy’s low shot to make the score 2-2 after three penalties apiece. In sudden death, Barsham stood tall once more, diving to his right to push away Sherif’s penalty and seal for his country the third spot.