Storm warning. Qatar and Panama deliver six goal thriller in Houston

Group D: Qatar 3 Panama 3

July 13 – Group D opened with a storm in Houston tonight. Torrential rain and severe weather warnings delayed the start of the Panama vs Qatar game by an hour with fans ordered to stay on the stadium concourses or in their cars until the storm had passed through.

What then followed was a first half of pushing and probing as two teams who have never met before felt each other out. And a second half of pure goalscoring mayhem that gave an enthralled crowd a six goal feast.

Both these sides have strong recent form. Panama played at the 2018 World Cup while Qatar are the current Asian Champions.

Panama opened the strongest with Edgar Barcenas shooting wide early on and then just failing to meet a cross driven across the box.

Using both wings, Jose Rodriguez was at the centre of Panama’s most threatening attacks. A shot from Rodriguez from the right was smartly saved byMeshaal Barsham in Qatar’s goal.

Comfortable to let Panama have the bulk of possession, Qatar dropped to a defensive line of five, but rapidly transitioned into attack through Akram Afif and Al Moez Ali who lived up to their star billing.

Afif could have given Qatar the lead on 10 minutes but but drove his shot into Panama keeper Luis Meija. Minutes later Qatar wasted another chance with Abdelkareem Hassan finding his way forward from centreback to the top edge of the Panama box. Having brilliantly turned his defender he blasted over the bar, much to his own fury.

The best chance of the half fell to Al Moez. Put though by Afif from the left , he left two defenders standing only to blast the ball into a well-positioned Meija.

Storm warning

It was 0-0 at half time and then, without warning, the storm broke for the second time in the evening. It began with 12 minutes of mayhem that saw the ball in the net five times.

On 48 minutes Afif picked up the ball in the Panama half and scored from open play, underlining what a precocious talent he is. Two minutes later Rolando Blackburn headed in a Barcenas corner to make it 1-1.

Afif turned from scorer to provider two minutes after that, threading the ball though to Al Moez who fired past Meija – 2-1 to Qatar but not for long.

Panama levelled to 2-2 on 57 minutes. Breaking down the right the ball was turned in at the near post by Blackurn for his second of the night.

The drama was far from over. On 60 minutes Afif is brought down in the box by Barcenas. Qatar captain Hasan Al Haydos calmly placed the ball to Meija’s left to make it 3-2 to Qatar.

It was 3-3 on 75 mimutes. Hassan brings down Abdiel Ayarza in the Qatar box. Eric Davies converted the spot kick.

It was end to end football and in the final minutes of added time Al Moez could have won the game for Qatar but had his shot blocked.

A night that began with a storm ended with a hurricane of goals.

Contact the writer of this story at moc.l1720797840labto1720797840ofdlr1720797840owedi1720797840sni@o1720797840fni1720797840

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