Ayman Hussein's first-half header gave Iraq a 1-0 victory over United Arab Emirates
Ayman Hussein's first-half header gave Iraq a 1-0 victory over United Arab Emirates on Tuesday, ending their slim hopes of reaching next year's World Cup in Russia.
The Emiratis needed to win by a convincing margin to have any chance of a play-off spot, but it was Iraq who showed more purpose and determination to clinch only their third win in 10 matches.
It was a disappointing outing for Edgardo Bauza-coached UAE, who upset regional giants Saudi Arabia last week and had held out hopes of reaching only their second World Cup.
But in front of an empty stadium in the Jordanian capital Amman, they failed to get their game going, allowing the Iraqis to hold sway over them for most of the match.
Iraq created a number of chances, keeping the UAE goal under pressure right from the start and eventually finding the net through the 21-year-old Hussein, who leapt high to head Waleed Saleem's cross into the net on 29 minutes.
UAE’s star players, including the talismanic Omar Abdulrahman, were off-colour for the better part of the encounter, hardly testing the Iraqi defence.
Iraq could have consolidated their lead several times in the second half but UAE goalkeeper Khalid Essa pulled off a string of saves, including twice in quick succession in the 52nd minute from Hussein and Bashar Resan.
The UAE had a great chance to equalise in the 70th minute but Tareq al-Khaddeim's shot was saved by Iraq goalkeeper Mohamed Gassid. UAE finish fourth in Group B, with Iraq fifth.