Ahmed Khalil's 41st minute free-kick gave UAE a single goal victory over Honduras in a match which saw both sides reduced to ten men. Played in front of a noisy crowd in Alexandria, the majority of who were behind UAE, Mahdi Rehda's side achieved what they wanted from the game, namely a place in the last 16.
UAE started the game with confidence, presumably with the memory of their late comeback against South Africa still fresh in their minds. The dominated the game from the first whistle and created an excellent chance in the 17th minute when Theyab Awana ghosted in at the far post and went inches wide with a header.
The teams then exchanged chances. With 25 minutes on the clock, Mario Martinez found himself with the ball on the edge of the area, took a touch and with his head down struck the ball with venom. Yousif Abdulrahman had to be alert to palm the ball away. UAE had a great chance to open the scoring a minute later when Ahmed Ali found himself unmarked in the six yard box, but aimed his header straight at Francisco Reyes, with the rest of the target at his mercy.
Shortly after the half hour mark, Abdulrahman then spilled a Mario Martinez shot on to the post, which should have been dealt with comfortably. UAE's nerves were settled four minutes before the break when Khalil's well-struck free-kick went over the wall, bounced before the keeper and hit the back of the net. It was a fair reflection on the first half, with UAE territorially dominant and looking competent when in possession.
Khalil almost made it 2-0 in the 55th minute when a free-kick similar to the last almost snook in to the bottom corner of Reyes' goal, but the keeper was alert to the danger and saved well. From then on, the game fizzled out as a spectacle as UAE did well to nullify Honduras' attacking threat. The central Americans stepped up the pace in added time although Reinieri Mayorquin curled a shot which went narrowly wide, it was too little too late.
Both sides were reduced to ten men in the latter stages when Mayorquin and Ali were involved in a needless, unseemly exchange, which sadly ended the game on a disappointing note. Honduras must now pick up a point in their final game against South Africa to make sure of their spot in the next round.