Gulf Cup of Nations: Ali Mabkhout hat-trick fires UAE to comfortable win against Yemen

Bert van Marwijk's side begin bid for third regional title with straightforward 3-0 victory

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The UAE steered their Gulf Cup of Nations campaign off to a winning start by defeating Yemen 3-0 in Doha on Wednesday night.

The national team, two-time regional champions, opened their Group A account with a comfortable victory at the Abdullah bin Khalifa Stadium courtesy of an Ali Mabkhout hat-trick.

With the win, the UAE rebounded from successive defeats in World Cup qualification, most recently a 1-0 loss to Vietnam on November 14.

Bert van Marwijk’s men did not take long to make their mark against Yemen, with Mabkhout heading home Bandar Al Ahbabi's floated cross 21 minutes in.

The Al Jazira striker, who last month became his country’s all-time leading scorer, returned to the starting line-up after a one-match suspension.

Mabkhout doubled the UAE’s advantage seven minutes before half-time after more fine work from Al Ahbabi.

The Al Ain winger, enjoying a stellar domestic season, raced to the byline and cut back his pass to Khalfan Mubarak, whose shot was blocked.

But the rebound fell to Mabkhout, allowing him to easily slot home.

The striker completed his hat-trick not long into the second half, latching on to Mubarak’s pass on 54 minutes, before skipping past a couple of challenges and finding the net.

The UAE on Friday face Iraq, who began Group A with a 2-1 victory against hosts Qatar earlier on Wednesday.

Runners-up at the Gulf Cup almost two years ago, the UAE won the tournament in 2007 and 2013.

UAE 3-0 Yemen

Mabkhout 21, 38, 54