BRISBANE: A magical goal from midfielder Yaser Kasim gave Iraq a crucial 1-0 win over a 10-man Jordan in the Asian Cup on Monday.
Kasim, who plays for Swindon Town in the third tier of English football, scored the winner in the 77th minute with a touch of Messi magic and a little slice of luck.
Taking the ball from outside the Jordan box, the 23-year-old dribbled his way past three defenders, then unleashed his shot at goal.
The ball took a deflection off the outstretched boot of Tareq Khattab, leaving Jordan captain and goalkeeper Amer Shafi with no chance of making the save.
Kasim´s spectacular strike ended what had been a relatively dour contest with teams adopting a cautious approach to the Group D clash at Lang Park.
Although it was their first match of the tournament, the stakes could not have been higher for both teams, with defending champions Japan having launched their Group D campaign with a 4-0 rout of Palestine earlier in the evening.
"The first match in the competition is very important," said Iraq coach Radhi Shenaishil. "The Jordanian team was very strong but our players did their job today and we have three points in the group stage."
Iraq are now in the box seat to reach the quarter-finals and perhaps start another fairytale run reminiscent of their 2007 Asian Cup triumph, which became a rare moment for celebration in the war-torn country.
Few people had given Iraq any chance of going far this time after a haphazard preparation brought about by the troubles at home, forced to train and play qualifiers in other neighbouring countries, including Jordan.
Neither Iraq nor Jordan had won a match since March last year and Jordan´s defeat was compounded by the sending off of Anas Bani-Yaseen, who picked up a second yellow card in a fiery match during which the referee made seven bookings.
Although Iraq had the lion´s share of possession, they still had to survive some anxious moments from a Jordan team coached by former English international Ray Wilkins.
Jordan´s best chance came in the second half when a cross fell at the feet of Mohammad Mustafa who instinctively fired at the target but straight at the Iraqi goalkeeper Jalal Hassan. (Reuters)