AL AIN (Reuters) - Qatar’s Almoez Ali took his tally to seven goals in three games at the Asian Cup, netting twice in a 2-0 win over Saudi Arabia on Thursday to ensure Felix Sanchez’s side advanced to the last 16 as Group E winners.
Ali scored a goal in each half to see off the Saudis, after Qatar captain Hassan Al Haydos had missed a penalty three minutes before halftime.
Al Duhail forward Ali capitalised on hesitation in the Saudi defence to beat the offside trap and slot the ball past Mohammed Al Owais in first-half stoppage time before doubling his haul 10 minutes from fulltime with a close-range header.
Qatar will face 2007 champions Iraq in the next round. The Saudis, who finished second in the group, will play Japan after they fought back to beat Uzbekistan 2-1 and finish top of Group F with a perfect record.
Newcastle United’s Yoshinori Muto, one of 10 changes made by Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu from their 1-0 win over Oman, rose to head home Sei Muroya’s cross just before the break after Eldor Shomurodov had put the Uzbeks in front with a fine individual effort in the 40th minute.
Japan took all three points when Tsukasa Shiotani smashed home his effort from distance to give Japan victory. Uzbekistan, who finished runners-up in the group, will next play Australia.
“The players achieved one of our goals and that was to advance to the knockout stage with three wins and top of the group,” said Moriyasu.
“Before coming here we were looking to play with solidarity and as a unit and the players showed that on the pitch.”
Oman set up a round-of-16 clash with Iran as a late goal from Mohammed Al Musalami gave Pim Verbeek’s side a 3-1 win over Turkmenistan in Group F that earned the Gulf side one of the four places available in the knockout rounds to the leading third-placed finishers.
Oman went through at the expense of Lebanon, who were eliminated despite their 4-1 win over North Korea in Group E.
Vietnam also progressed from Group D as one of the best third-placed sides and the recently-crowned South East Asian champions will take on Jordan in the last 16.
The draw for the next round also sees Bahrain take on South Korea, China meet Thailand and hosts the United Arab Emirates face debutants Kyrgyzstan.
Editing by Toby Davis