- AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 officially underway
- Hosts share spoils with Bahrain in opening match
- Khalil penalty cancels Al Rohaimi's header
Hosts UAE and Bahrain opened the AFC Asian Cup 2019 with a 1-1 draw in Group A at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
Mohamed Al Rohaimi opened the scoring in the 78th minute but his effort was cancelled out by Ahmed Khalil, who converted a penalty kick for the hosts ten minutes later.
Komail Al Aswad nearly scored from a free-kick in the first half but his effort flew inches wide of UAE keeper Khalid Eisa’s goal.
UAE forward Ali Mabkhout came close to breaking the deadlock in the 68th minute after the ball fell kindly to him just ten yards from goal, but he struck his effort wide.
The match then sprang to life in the closing minutes as Al Rohaimi scored the tournament’s first goal with a header. Sayed Redha Isa clipped in a cross from the right flank and Al Rohaimi steered a shot on target with his head. After his initial effort was cleared off the line, Al Rohaimi made no mistake from close range, finishing with his right foot.
UAE then answered with a goal of their own just a few minutes later. Bahrain substitute Mohamed Marhoon was adjudged to have handled the ball in the penalty area and Khalil, who reached the 100-cap milestone for his country, made no mistake from the resulting spot-kick to ensure both teams finished with a point to their name.
The result is an improvement for Bahrain, who were defeated by UAE in the teams’ only other Asian Cup encounter in the group stage at the last edition in 2015.
Sunday 6 January (all times local)
Australia - Jordan, Group B, 15:00
Thailand - India, Group A, 17:30
Syria - Palestine, Group B, 20:00