Muscat: A late goal by Khalid Al Hajri helped Oman edge Palestine for a 1-0 victory in their final qualifying match of the 2019 Asian Cup at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex on Tuesday.
The victory meant Dutchman Pim Verbeek-coached Oman, thanks to their better goal average, ended their sucessful qualiyfing campaign as Group D toppers compared to Palestine despite both teams earning 15 points each from six matches.
According to news posted on the AFC website, Khalid Al Hajri’s winner two minutes from time was enough to earn Oman top spot in the group.
Al Hajri netted two minute from the end of a scrappy encounter between two teams who had already secured their tickets for next January’s Asian Cup Finals in the United Arab Emirates.
Palestine went into the game with a three-point advantage thanks to their victory on home soil earlier in qualifying and a draw would have been enough for them to hold on to pole position at the completion of the qualifying schedule.
But a tepid performance from both sides suggested a draw was the most likely outcome before Al Hajri’s late intervention.
Mohsin Al Khaldi saw his goal-bound attempt clawed to safety by Palestine goalkeeper 12 minutes from the end of a tight first half as neither side created much in front of goal.
Ten minutes after the restart, Shadi Shaban smashed his shot from distance well over the bar, while a 72nd minute effort by Mahmoud Eid’s from long range met with a similar fate.
The game looked like it was heading for a goalless draw until Saad Suhail Al Mukhaini sent in his low cross from the right and the Palestinian defence failed to clear before the ball fell at the feet of Al Hajri and his scuffed shot just made it over the goal line.