NEWCASTLE, Australia (AFP) – Abdul Al Maqbali struck with a second-half header as Oman beat Kuwait 1-0 in a dead rubber at the Asian Cup on Saturday, both teams already having been eliminated.
A scrappy encounter between the Gulf rivals appeared to be meandering towards the tournament’s first draw before Al Maqbali pounced with a superb header to break the stalemate in Group A game with only pride at stake.
It was Oman’s first victory at the Asian Cup since 2004.
Al Maqbali’s goal briefly sparked the game to life and the striker could have snatched a hat-trick inside three minutes, first blazing wide on the volley and then seeing a header cleared off the line.
Their bags already packed having been beaten by Group A powerhouses Australia and South Korea, both teams were limited to speculative long-range shots in a first half offering very little for a crowd of 7,000 in Newcastle to get excited about.
Abdullah Al Buraiki forced a superb save from Oman goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi before squandering a gilt-edged chance to equalise by nodding over the bar when it appeared easier to score.
Fahed Al Ebrahim smashed wide for 1980 champions Kuwait, who huffed and puffed but with no end product as they failed to break an 11-match winless streak against Oman and finished without a point.
Kuwait also finished bottom of their group with no points at the last Asian Cup in 2011, won by Japan.
Both teams shipped four goals against Australia but neither looked capable of inflicting the same damage, underlining the gap in quality between them and the top two sides in the group, who met in Saturday’s headline game in Brisbane.