Shahrukh Sohail, Chief Editor, Islamabad
The Arabs were able to beat the young Shaheens 2-0, who despite putting up a valiant effort had nothing to show for their display.
Kicking-off at the Punjab Stadium, Pakistan were backed by the home supporters and launched a flurry of attacks at the UAE goal mouth. Munir Baloch looked particularly impressive with his head on dribbling and he was unlucky not to score on the 5th minute when his well-placed shot crashed off the post.
The Green Shirts continued to dominate proceedings in the early part of the tie, but UAE hit back on the counter and almost found the back of the net against the run of play, when Ammar Hassan’s cross rolled past the goal with no one there to tap it in.
Both sides continue to battle in the middle of the park and the game become feisty as demonstrated by UAE’s Mohammad Abdulla , who got booked for a tough tackle.
The conditions took a toll on both sets of the players and the referee allowed an unofficial water break on the 31th minute. That proved to be the difference, as Pakistan lost their steam and UAE started imposing themselves on the tie.
And they almost profited from the continuous pressure with Majid Muhammad’s close-range drive hitting the woodwork with 33 minutes gone. Coach Sajjad Mehmood’s charges were clearly on the back foot and they were almost made to pay when goalkeeper Shoaib spilled Essa Muhammad’s long range free-kick, but UAE were unable to convert.
Pakistan then rose out of the ashes to counter, but their inability to beat the opposition defence saw things level when half-time approached.
In the 2nd half, the Shaheens were completely caught out due to their inferior fitness levels and UAE made full use of that managing to finally find the back of the net on 70 minutes.
On 87 minutes, UAE doubled their lead through a penalty and sealed three points, meaning that Pakistan now faces an uphill battle to qualify from the group stages.