One year after the historic FIFA World Cup 2022, a 24-team tournament kicks off in Qatar for crown of Asian football.
Hosts and defending champions Qatar opened the AFC Asian Cup 2023 with a dominant win, defeating Lebanon 3-0 at the Lusail Stadium on Friday.
Filled close to capacity, a tight match on the field left fans on the edges of their feet as both teams advanced to the box.
Playing with a 4-2-3-1 lineup, Qatar managed to control the ball efficiently as Lebanon aimed to defend.
In the fifth minute of the match, Almoez Ali struck a shot, but the Qatar striker was ruled offside.
Dominating in possession, Qatar ultimately made their efforts count as Akram Afif slipped through the Lebanon defence to draw a low shot into the corner, minutes before halftime.
By halftime, Qatar reigned on the pitch, holding 74% ball possession with three shots on target.
After the break, both teams fought tooth and nail as Lebanon made steps to equalise.
Despite a close corner, Lebanon fell short of making any results.
Qatar’s Almoez Ali finally got his change again as he nailed in a header from a clever cross by Hassan Al Haydos.
With less than 30 minutes to go in the match, Qatar’s newly appointed coach Tintin Marquez made substitutions, with Al Haydos and Youssef coming off for Hamid Ismail and Abdelrahman Moustafa.
After doubling the lead, Qatar continued to excel in both attack and defence, as Lebanon looked misplaced on the field.
After some close Lebanon encounters in the box, Qatar managed to secure the match at home in front of a crowd of 82,000 as Afif struck in another goal.