El Salvador nearly pulled off a classic comeback but it falls short in their elimination to Qatar. Goals from Almoez Ali and Abdelaziz Hatem inside the opening eight minutes put El Salvador in a big hole. Ali gave Qatar a three-nil lead early in the second half via penalty. El Salvador would fight back with two quick fire goals from Joaquin Rivas, but couldn’t muster an equalizer. Qatar made history and are onto the semifinals.
El Salvador comeback falls short in elimination to Qatar
Qatar make no changes to the team that won Group D against Honduras. Two changes for El Salvador: Bryan Tamacas is back at right-back and Amando Moreno is in midfield as both Narciso Orellana and Marvin Monterroza drop.
El Salvador lineup (4-4-2): Mario Gonzalez; Alexander Larin, Ronald Gomez, Eriq Zavaleta, Bryan Tamacas; Amando Moreno, Alex Roldan, (C) Darwin Ceren, Joshua Perez; Jairo Henriquez, Joaquin Rivas
Qatar lineup (5-3-2): Meshaal Barsham; Homad Ahmed, Abdelkarim Hassan, Boualem Khoukhi, Bassam Al-Rawi, Pedro Miguel; Abdelaziz Hatem, Karim Boudiaf, (C) Hassan Al Heidos; Akram Afif, Almoez Ali
First Half: Two early goals spark ruthless Qatar onslaught
Qatar take the lead inside 95 seconds. A bad giveaway in midfield by Ceren sprung Qatar on the counter. And within seconds Afif fed Ali through who then tucked it away for the opener.
Abdelaziz Hatem would double the lead for Qatar inside eight minutes. The Qatar number six would collect the ball outside the box, fake with his left and shoot a right-footed missile past Gonzalez into the upper-far corner for the two-goal advantage.
And Qatar nearly had a third but Pedro Miguel’s long range strike kissed the post and went out. El Salvador were progressing towards making a few chances, but nothing doing. Despite having nearly 70% possession, it’s the counter-attack of Qatar that did the damage. Also, the four corners La Selecta won amounted to pretty much nothing, something that’s been a theme of theirs throughout the tournament.
Four shots on target for Qatar, seven in total in that first half onslaught. A ruthless display as practically everything went to plan for Felix Sánchez. They took advantage of Hugo Perez’s side who were asleep throughout the opening minutes of the game. The Hatem goal is worth another look, a beautiful thunderbolt that very few keepers, if any, could save.
Second Half: Qatar survive El Salvador comeback to advance
The second half began with no subs from either team. Marvin Monterroza came on for Joshua Perez as El Salvador make their first change. Minutes after the sub, Qatar won a penalty after referee Fernando Hernandez signaled a handball. Even though the ball clearly hit the shin of Ceren before hitting his hand, the ref kept the call on the field after a VAR review. Ali stepped up to score Qatar’s third, past Gonzalez despite him guessing correctly.
El Salvador would get on the board. A beautiful, well-worked goal saw tidy short passes with Rivas putting it home to give La Selecta some hope. Walter Martinez came on for Henriquez immediately after. Just three minutes later, Rivas would double his tally after Tamacas laid one on a plate for him.
The comeback was officially on. Afif would come off, Mohammed Muntari on as Qatar made a change. Tarek Salman also came on for Ahmed. El Salvador made a double sub with 10 minutes left. Marvin Marquez for Moreno, and Carlos Portillo for Larin.
Qatar survived a flurry of El Salvador corners and avoid disaster. They then made a sub of their own. Abdullah Abdulsalam for Al Hedios. After 98 minutes of play, Qatar survive to advance to the semifinals.
Last Words on El Salvador vs Qatar
This game practically had it all. The slow start doomed El Salvador but as always, they fought back and gave it everything. Hugo Perez and fans of this country couldn’t have asked for more throughout the tournament. They have nothing to be disappointed about, heads should be held to the highest. La Selecta have exceeded expectations and will be a tough out for every opponent in World Cup qualifying. Their first game is home against the United States in early September.
But the plaudits go to Qatar, a team invited into the competition and have continued to make the most of it. They are dynamic on the counter attack and defend for their lives at times. They are a dangerous outfit and credit goes to manager Felix Sanchez. The former Barcelona youth coach has inspired this group of players into possibly being in the final next month. It’s a tremendous story.