• World Cup hosts, who were camping in Europe for the last four months, will return home today for a brief period
Goalkeeper Meshaal Barsham saved a late penalty as Qatar fought back from a goal down to hold Chile 2-2 in their international friendly at the Franz Horr Stadium in Vienna on Tuesday.
It was a far from convincing performance from the Asian Champions as Qatar most likely played their last competitive match before their World Cup debut at home in November. They, however, showed nerves of steel as they managed to hold Chile after a drab show in the first half.
Having trailed at half-time, the Maroons fought back to lead 2-1, only to be denied victory by a late Chile equaliser. Felix Sanchez’s men went into the tie determined to bounce back from their 2-0 defeat to Canada. Chile, however, were difficult to breach and showed their intent with Alexis Sanchez giving them the lead in the 37th minute after Akram Afif lost the ball with sloppy passing.
Qatar came out for the second half with renewed purpose but had to wait till the 59th minute for the equaliser, with Afif drawing them level by finishing Almoez Ali’s assist. Boosted by the equaliser, Qatar upped their tempo and Hassan al-Haydos put them ahead in the 67th minute with a screamer from just outside the box.
Chile, however, forced their way back into the tie and were rewarded for their efforts with Arturo Vidal drawing them level in the 78th minute. Chile could have won it in the closing stages after receiving a penalty for a foul on Ben Brereton.
But Barsham guessed it right and dived to his right to block Sanchez’s spot kick as Chile remained winless since the end of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, with La Roja failing to make it to Qatar.
Qatar, meanwhile, who were camping in Europe for the last four months, will return home today for a brief period. The players will be given three days’ rest before they will hold an open training session in front of fans and media for five days at the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium on Sunday. Qatar then will return to isolation in Spain for more training as Sanchez looks to finalise his 26-member squad for the World Cup.
Having spent tens of billions of dollars preparing for the first World Cup in an Arab nation, Qatar is desperate to see the national side get past the first round where they are grouped with Netherlands, Senegal and Ecuador.
Iran hold Senegal
Iran fought back after conceding an own goal to draw 1-1 with Senegal in a friendly on Tuesday as both World Cup-bound teams concluded their preparations for the tournament in Qatar. Iran were a goal down after 55 minutes when defender Morteza Pouraliganji stretched out a leg to try and cut out a pass but steered it into his own net from an acute angle in the match played at the home of Austrian club Admira Wacker Modling.
African champions Senegal only managed to hold the lead for nine minutes before Sardar Azmoun equalised. The Iran forward headed home from a cross by left back Ehsan Hajsafi, which caught the Senegal defence static. The draw follows a 1-0 win for Iran over Uruguay in Vienna on Friday in Carlos Queiroz’s first match back as coach.
Iran take on England, Wales and the United States in their three Group B games at the World Cup, which starts on Nov. 20. Senegal play Netherlands in their opening fixture in Qatar, followed by clashes with the hosts and Ecuador in Group A.
Uruguay beat Canada
Uruguay beat Canada 2-0 in their final friendly before the World Cup with Nicolas de la Cruz and Darwin Nunez scoring first-half goals to give the South American side victory in Bratislava on Tuesday.
De la Cruz opened the scoring in the sixth minute with a sublime free kick that curled over the wall and beat the keeper. Liverpool’s 75mn euros ($71.86mn) forward Nunez doubled Uruguay’s lead just after the half-hour mark when he powered home a header after his strike partner Luis Suarez floated in a cross.
Canada had more possession and did threaten but John Herdman’s side struggled to find the final ball as Uruguay kept a clean sheet and returned to winning ways following their 1-0 loss to Iran last week.
Canada are in Group F along with Belgium, Morocco and Croatia while Uruguay face Portugal, Ghana and South Korea in Group H at the World Cup, which kicks off on November 20 in Qatar.
Qatar’s Hassan al-Haydos (left) and Chile’s Arturo Vidal vie for the ball during the friendly match in Vienna yesterday. (AFP)