United Arab Emirates, desperate for three points after a heart-breaking loss to Portugal on day one, struck moments into the match to signal their intentions, as a melodic symphony from synchronised voices and assorted instruments cascaded down from their supporters. Karim Albalooshi was the goal-getter and he struck again soon after Solomon Islands’ goalkeeper Fred Hale had slipped a long shot under UAE goalkeeper Abbas Hussain to draw his side level.
Ibrahim Albalooshi’s direct-kick could not find its way through, but UAE continued to test their luck as the first period drew to a close, sending a number of well-taken shots goalward. And with just twelve seconds gone in the second period, Ibrahim Albalooshi put one in for UAE. Crafty forays forward followed from both sides, before Bakhit Alabadla and then Rami Al Mesaabi added a couple more for UAE.
Qambar Sadeqi drew gasps as his crushing strike found the back of the net midway through the final period, as Solomon Islands were forced to grow comfortable with the idea of sharing top spot in Group B. As UAE tallied another, it hardly seemed necessary, but the flag-waving UAE supporters did not seem to mind.
UAE face Uruguay tomorrow as the group stages draw to a close, while Solomon Islands have the unpleasant task of contending with a Portugal side eager for another win.