The UAE starting line-up pose for a picture before the match against Bahrain. Marwan Naamani.
Esmail Al Hammadi scored the game-winning goal in the second half of extra-time to hand the UAE a historic second Gulf Cup title in six years, beating Iraq 2-1 at Bahrainâ€™s National Stadium in Manama. President Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan subsequently honored the UAE football team at Al Rawda Palace, Al Ain.
Omar Abdul Rahman fired the UAE ahead just before the half hour mark with a sensational lone run into the right of the box. He rounded four defenders and switched sides on Ali Adnan twice, before he struck with his left. It took a deflection off Ahmad Ebrahimâ€™s leg to wrong-foot Iraq keeper Noor Sabri.
It followed an already bright start for the UAE where Ahmad Khalil had broken down the left only to see his tight angled shot palmed wide. From the subsequent corner by Omar, Khalil headed it onto Ali Mabkhout at the back post only to watch him scuff a free volley in front of goal. Omar then had a free kick from the right of goal, just outside the area, tipped agonizingly over the posts by Sabri. But he made up for it moments later with his dazzling opener.
Iraqâ€™s best chance came just before the interval, with Humam Tareqâ€™s nearside shot, left of goal, plucked out of danger by UAE keeper Ali Khaseef. But despite flashes of early promise the UAE had contained Iraq and left them helpless, dominating with pressing tactics for much of the first half.
Ahmad Yaseen could have equalized for Iraq with a free header in front of goal, nodded straight at the keeper from a cross just after the break – before Amer Abdul Rahman put a long shot wide of the post for the UAE up the other end.
Khaseef was then forced to dive and tip Adnanâ€™s screaming effort wide just before the hour as Iraq searched for a way back into the game. Ten minutes later it was Dhurgham Esmailâ€™s chance to rattle the unshakable UAE keeper from range, but the effort was coolly absorbed.
Iraq finally broke the UAE down ten minutes from time when a throw in headed on by two Iraqiâ€™s and tapped back by the third fell to Younus Mahmoud in the box, who blasted it in at the back post, before Al Hammadiâ€™s eventual winner.