Bahrain returns as the reigning champions after winning their first title in 2019.
The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain battled one another for day two of the 2023 Arab Gulf Cup on Saturday, with both squads trying to find a finish in the first half.
Held in Iraq’s Al-Minaa Olympic Stadium, the UAE emerged as the better-attacking team as they played a more controlling offence.
A few opportunities were delivered to Rodolfo Arruabarrena’s side, but a lack of finishing was evident as the Emirates executed weak strikes.
In the 12th minute, a charged dribble offence was run by the Emirates wingers, with Khaled Aldhanhani receiving the pass and firing the ball into the hands of the Bahraini goalkeeper.
Bahrain returned the attacking favour with their own chances, drawing a dangerous just attempt minutes before halftime.
At halftime, Bahrain held a slight advantage in ball possession with 51% and two shots out of three on target.
The second half started with the same script as the first, but the UAE produced more consistently as they nearly struck a goal in the 53rd and 57th minutes.
Playing a defensively contested game, Bahrain’s campaign to attack the box was empty.
In the 59th minute, Bahrain was awarded a free-kick, with Mahdi Al-Humaidan clutching the ball to the back of the net.
The unanticipated screamer edged the Bahraini side into a game momentum that the Emirates tried relentlessly to break.
The defensive challenge would be of little importance to the Bahrain side as Jasim al-shaikh fixed another goal in the 77th minute.
Down 2-0, UAE looked desperate to rim a goal of their own with few minutes left on the clock.
The officials would award an extra five minutes, entitling Sebastian Lucas Tagliabue to score a lone goal for the emirates.
Despite the inspiring goal, time wasn’t on the Emirates side as the game would end 2-1.