World Cup qualifiers: UAE striker Ali Mabkhout equals Pele's record in 1-1 draw with Syria

Team KT/Dubai
Filed on September 7, 2021
UAE’s Ali Mabkhout vies for the ball with a Syrian defender during their World Cup qualifying match. (UAEFA Twitter)

This was UAE's second straight draw after being held to a goalless draw at home by Lebanon last week

Ali Mabkhout wrote his name in the history books with an opportunistic strike that helped the prolific striker equal Brazilian legend Pele’s record as the seventh-highest international scorer of all time with 77 goals. But his effort was not enough to give UAE their first win in the third round of the World Cup qualifiers on Tuesday.

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A fast-paced game at King Abdullah II Stadium in Amman, Jordan, saw UAE play out a 1-1 draw with Syria.

This was UAE’s second straight draw after being held to a goalless draw at home by Lebanon last week.

Having lost the first game to Iran 1-0, Syria staged an impressive fightback on Tuesday to earn their first point in the qualifying campaign, thanks to a 64th-minute goal from Mahmood Al Baher.

The visitors opened their account with their very first chance as Syrian goalkeeper Ibrahim Alma failed to handle Shahin Abdulrahman’s long-range pass, allowing the ball to slip through to Ali Mabkhout who was perfectly positioned to poke home his 77th international goal, surpassing Argentine legend Lionel Messi and matching Pele’s record.

Syria thought they were gifted the equaliser when Mahmoud Khamis’ miscued attempt to clear a cross with his weaker right foot saw the ball fall straight to striker Omar Khribin inside the box with the goal at his mercy, but the 2017 AFC Player of The Year could not keep his composure and sent his effort just wide.

Khribin was presented with another golden opportunity just after the hour mark as a cross from the left was deflected into his path but with only goalkeeper Ali Khaseif to beat, he fluffed his lines.

The final minutes of the half saw missed chances from both sides as Khribin beat the wall with a free-kick from 20 yards out but couldn’t bring it down on time, watching his effort graze the roof of the net.

At the other end, Mabkhout got on the end of a Bandar Al Ahbabi cross at the near post but his attempted chip ended behind for a goal kick.

Syria’s first chance of a cagey second half came at the hour mark through substitute Mahmood Al Baher who collected Aias Aosman’s pass inside the box and fired an effort that was parried away by Khaseif.

Minutes later, the UAE goalkeeper could do little as Al Baher came knocking again. Defender Abdulrahman was unable to deal with Mahmood Al Mawas’ cross from the right and the ball fell to the substitute who rifled on the half volley into the back of the net for Syria’s equaliser.

Mabkhout could have doubled his tally with just 10 minutes to go as Al Ahbabi whipped in a cross from a set-piece for him at the far post but the UAE’s record goalscorer could not direct his header towards the goalmouth. (with inputs from AFC website)

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