CANBERRA (AFP) – United Arab Emirates striker Ali Mabkhout scored after 14 seconds in one of the fastest goals in Asian Cup history to propel his side towards a 2-1 win over Bahrain on Thursday.
The Group C victory in Canberra marked the first time UAE had won their opening two matches at the tournament and put them on the verge of qualifying for the quarter-finals.
Omar Abdulrahman chipped a delightful ball over the top of Bahrain’s defence and Mabkhout calmly controlled it with his right foot before slotting past goalkeeper Sayed Abbas with his left.
It was Mabkhout’s third goal of the Asian Cup after a double in UAE’s opening 4-1 win against Qatar Sunday, making him the tournament’s top scorer.
Goals have been scored within a minute at the competition before, notably China’s Xie Yuxin in 1992 and Kuwaiti Fat’hi Kameil in 1976, but Mabkhout’s is one of the quickest on record.
UAE enjoyed more of the ball in the opening stages with midfield wizard Abdulrahman so often the instigator of UAE’s attacking play.
But Bahrain gradually came into the match after the shock of conceding so early and always looked dangerous up front through Nigerian-born striker Jaycee Okwunwanne.
The bulldozing targetman — nicknamed “Ronaldo” in some quarters — blazed just over the bar with an audacious overhead kick, before Ahmed Khalil hit the post from close range at the other end.
UAE would rue that miss shortly afterwards when Okwunwanne got his reward for persistent badgering of the defence, scoring with a header at the back post from a corner on 26 minutes.