ABU DHABI, UAE, A four-goal haul from Almoez Ali inspired Qatar to a 6-0 thrashing of North Korea in Al Ain on Sunday to seal their place in the Asian Cup knock-out rounds with a game to spare.
Ali’s dream display with two goals in each half catapulted him top of the scoring charts. Boualem Khoukhi headed the third shortly before the break and Abdelkarim Hassan completed the rout.
World Cup 2022 hosts Qatar top Group E on goal difference and meet Saudi Arabia, who have also guaranteed progress, in a politically charged encounter to decide first place on Thursday.
North Korea and Lebanon remain without a point but the winner of their meeting could still qualify as a third-placed team.
Asian Cup record champions Japan later hope to build on their opening Group F victory when they face Oman in Abu Dhabi. Japan, along with Uzbekistan who face Turkmenistan in Dubai, can ensure progress with victory.
North Korea had been humbled 4-0 by the Saudis in their opening game and it was immediately clear they would fare little better against Qatar. Ali controlled Akram Afif’s cross to open the scoring in nine minutes and two minutes later doubled the advantage by sweeping home a delivery from Hasan Al Haydos.
Playinng without Perugia attacker Kwang Song Han, suspended after a red card in the first game, North Korea tried to rally but lacked a cutting edge.
Khouki headed a 43rd minute third before Ali added another two by the hour, becoming just the fifth player to score four in an Asian Cup game. Hassan ended the North Korean scoring in the 68th and North Korea’s misery was completed by Jong Il Gwan’s second yellow card in added time.
Source: Qatar Olympic Committee