UAE one step closer to Qatar 2022 after thrashing Indonesia

Bert van Marwijk's men will face Vietnam on Tuesday in crunch World Cup qualifier

The UAE saw off Indonesia 5-0 in Dubai on Friday night to set up a World Cup qualification decider with Vietnam in four days' time.

The national team, seeking victory to keep progression in their own hands, made it three wins from three since the qualifiers restarted last week, dispatching Group G's bottom side at Zabeel Stadium.

Doubles from Ali Mabkhout and Fabio De Lima - they notched a goal each in either half - and a first competitive strike for substitute Sebastian Tagliabue sealed the three points.

However, home goalkeeper Ali Kasheif was called upon to provide a telling contribution shortly before half-time when he saved an Indonesia penalty.

The victory keeps the UAE second in the standings, two points off Vietnam, after the frontrunners recorded a 2-1 triumph against Malaysia at nearby Al Maktoum Stadium, also on Friday night. The pair will face off in the group finale on Tuesday, which takes place once more at Zabeel Stadium.

Only the group winners are guaranteed to advance to the third and final round on the road to Qatar 2022, alongside the four best runners-up from the eight pools.

Following a modest start in stiflingly humid conditions on Friday, the UAE had two goals in six minutes midway through the first half.

On 22 minutes, Mabkhout found Al Jazira teammate Khalfan Mubarak, who swivelled and shot low at Muhammad Riyandi. The Indonesia goalkeeper could only parry, leaving Mabkhout to pounce on the rebound. It took the striker’s tally against Indonesia during the second round to four goals.

Soon after, the UAE doubled its advantage. This time, left-back Mahmoud Khamis intercepted a sloppy pass from an Indonesian rival, before crossing deep to De Lima. Having peeled off at the far post, the forward looped his header back into the net.

Still, the hosts were almost made to rue some casual defending of their own.

A tale of two penalties

Not long before half-time, Indonesia full-back Asnawi Mangkualam advanced to the byline and, as he looked to cut back the ball, his cross collided with Walid Abbas’s outstretched arm.

Penalty awarded, Kasheif did brilliantly to tip opposing captain Evan Dimas’s spot-kick onto the upright.

Three minutes into the second half, Mabkhout showed how it should be done from the spot. Mubarak was felled by a naive lunge from defender Adam Alis, with Mabkhout then casually converting from 12 yards.

If that did not secure the points, then De Lima’s second of the night did.

Again, he met a pinpoint Khamis cross and headed beyond the despairing Riyandi to put the hosts 4-0 after 55 minutes.

UAE's Ali Mabkhout scores his second goal from the spot during the game between the UAE and Indonesia in the World cup qualifiers at the Zabeel Stadium, Dubai on June 11th, 2021. Chris Whiteoak / The National. 
Reporter: John McAuley for Sport

The goal took De Lima's tally to five in the three matches the UAE has played in an intensive eight-day period.

Mabkhout had chances to grab a second successive hat-trick against Indonesia, but the UAE's all-time leading scorer could not find a third way past Riyandi.

Mabkhout was substituted for Tagliabue late on and the Argentina-born striker promptly announced his arrival by firing high into the goal with four minutes left on the clock.

The UAE had five, another three points, and a maximum nine from nine this month. All to play for, then, on Tuesday.