Qatar have upset the odds to win the 2019 Asian Cup, beating Japan at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Friday.
First-half goals from Almoez Ali and Abdulaziz Hatem gave Félix Sánchez Bas’s side a shock 2-0 lead at the break.
Four-time continental champions Japan tried to mount a second-half comeback against their unfancied opponents, competing in the final for the very first time, and pulled a goal back through Takumi Minamino with 20 minutes left on the clock. But Qatar scored another through Akram Afif before full-time to secure a famous victory.
The 2022 World Cup hosts were 40-1 outsiders to win the 2019 Asian Cup before a ball was kicked this tournament.
Nobody gave them a chance of lifting the trophy. Well, nobody except Barcelona legend Xavi.
The World Cup winner was mocked for predicting Qatar would beat Japan in the final before the tournament even got underway.
That prediction, however, has proved to be scarily accurate.
Qatar finished top of Group E after winning all three of their matches against Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and North Korea without conceding a single goal.
They then saw off Iraq in the Round of 16, South Korea in the quarter-finals and tournament hosts United Arab Emirates in the semis.
Incredibly, they also kept clean sheets in all of those knockout games.
But surely their almost miraculous run would come to an end against Japan?
Qatar broke the deadlock in style in the 12th minute of the match.
The aforementioned Ali broke the deadlock with a stunning overhead kick, which you can watch here…
Imagine scoring that type of goal in a major final. It’s the stuff of dreams.
Interestingly, Jose Mourinho picked Ali out for special praise while providing analysis on Qatar’s 2-0 victory over Saudi Arabia on January 17.
The revered Portuguese coach said the 22-year-old, who currently plies his trade with Al-Duhail in his home country, had the quality to play abroad.
Like Xavi, Mourinho’s prediction is also likely to come true.
Ali’s overhead kick was his ninth goal of the competition, breaking the record for most goals ever scored by a single player at an Asian Cup tournament in the process.
A move to a European club is surely on the cards for the forward now.
Hatem went on to double Qatar’s advantage in the 27th minute with an excellent strike from distance.
Minamino's goal midway through the second half set up an enthralling finale but Qatar netted the third of the evening via Afif to lift the trophy.
Qatar have sent out a real statement of intent with this unexpected triumph ahead of the next World Cup finals in three years time.
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