Saudi Arabia, Bahrain through to semifinals in Gulf Cup

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ABU DHABI: Saudi Arabia and Bahrain clinched the remaining semifinal spots at the Gulf Cup on Wednesday.

Saudi Arabia defeated Iraq 1-0 to top Group B, while Bahrain beat defending champion Qatar 2-1 to edge Iraq to second place on goal difference.

Bahrain s victory set up a meeting with Group A leader Oman in Saturday s semifinals, while Saudi Arabia will face host United Arab Emirates in a repeat of the 1994 final.

Saudi Arabia took the lead Wednesday on a 12th-minute penalty from Yasser Al Qahtani, who earned the kick when goalkeeper Noor Sabry Abbas brought him down.

Iraq missed several chances, notably by Emad Mohammed who volleyed wide from close range in the 17th and shot wide again 10 minutes later.

Its chances diminished further when Haider Aboudi was sent off in the 41st for bringing down Qahtani just outside the penalty area.

Abbas then stopped a curling free kick by Qahtani from just outside the penalty area and then punched away a close-range header from the ensuing corner.

Iraqi made a last effort in the closing stages but Ahmed Saleh hit a weak shot from close range and Hawa Mulla Mohammed s powerful header from a dipping cross off flew over the bar.

An injury-time goal for Bahrain denied Iraq a place in the semifinals, Alaa Hubail scoring twice as Bahrain rallied to win.

Hubail equalized just before halftime and headed in a dipping cross a minute into injury time to take his team into the last four.

Qatar had to win by a two-goal margin and also hope that Saudi Arabia would beat Iraq, to stand a chance of going through to the second round.

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