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Qatar survive chaos and controversy to move one step away from retaining Asian Cup

Qatar survive chaos and controversy to move one step away from retaining Asian Cup
The Asian Cup 2023 has been a ground of high-intensity performances, controversy, and exciting moments. Amidst all this, Qatar managed to outlive the chaos, triumphing over Iran with a thrilling 3-2 win in the semi-finals and advancing towards their second consecutive Asian Cup final. The hero of the match was Akram Afif, who delivered a spectacular performance, scoring one goal and assisting another.
Qatar is now poised to defend their Asian crown against Jordan at Lusail Stadium, looking to become the first repeat champions since Japan in 2000 and 2004. Much credit is due to their star player, Akram Afif, as well as Almoez Ali's timely interventions, dramatic saves by Meshaal Barsham, and intense extra-time minutes.
The Qatari team showed their mettle, especially during the frantic final moments when Iran was desperately attempting to equalize. Meshaal Barsham, the Qatari goalkeeper, made a remarkable save, deflecting a shot by Iran's substitute, Reza Asadi, thus preserving Qatar's lead.

Qatar's victory was not without controversy, sparking intense emotions from both teams and their fans. The Iranian team were outraged over a couple of instances where they felt they were denied penalties for perceived offences by Qatari players. Despite their six consecutive wins against Qatar before this match, this particular night did not favor Iran.
The hero of the match, Akram Afif, played a critical role in reversing the initial advantage that Iran had gained. He set-up the equalizer for Jassem Gaber and hammered a laser shot that put Qatar in the lead just before half-time.
Despite initial domination at the start of the second half by Iran, which included leveling the score from a penalty, Qatar regained control. A shot deflected by Abdulaziz Hatem fell conveniently to Almoez Ali, who made no mistake in sending it to the back of the net, putting Qatar in the lead once again.
In a controversial decision, Iran's Shoja' Khalilzadeh was handed a red card following a VAR intervention, which upgraded his initial yellow card. Despite being one man down, Iran relentlessly attacked, forcing Qatar to defend their lead strenuously. However, Qatar held on, maintaining their lead to the end, thus booking their spot in the final.
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