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Mauritania all but eliminated from FIFA Arab Cup after falling to United Arab Emirates

Mauritania fell to its second defeat from two games at the 2021 FIFA Arab Cup, losing 1-0 to the United Arab Emirates on a last minute strike from Khalil Ibrahim. The West African side are mathematical long shots to advance out of Group B following the result and will finish their group stage fixtures with a matchup against Syria on Monday.

New Mauritania manager Didier Gomes da Rosa rotated a few players into his starting lineup after the team’s 5-1 opening match defeat to Tunisia with the result being an attack that lacked fluidity going forward. United Arab Emirates dominated possession but failed to do much with the ball as the Mauritanians relied on an ineffective counter-attacking strategy. The closest either team came to opening the scoring in the first half came just before halftime when UAE’s Mohammed Al-Menhali snuck in at the far post to meet a cross, but goalkeeper M’Backé N’Diaye was quick to react with a kick save.

The Mauritanian attack was composed mainly of domestic based players with free agent midfielder Adama Ba attempting to act as a playmaker, but continued to be largely ineffective throughout. The UAE attack became more effective in the second half and appeared to take the lead on a stunning effort around the 70 minute mark. Bandar Al-Ahbabi floated in a cross from the right wing that was flicked by Ali Mabkhout over to Ali Saleh, who chested the ball up before performing a sensational bicycle kick goal. However, a lengthy VAR review concluded that offside occurred on the play and the show stopping moments was waved off.

Eventually the goal came for UAE right at the very end. In the 3rd minute of stoppage time, a cross from Al-Ahbabi was cleared and Tahnoon Al-Zaabi quickly collected the ball and sent in another cross. Mauritania defender Ablaye Sy stretched and could only deflect the ball right over to a waiting Ibrahim, who finished with a calm volley to give UAE the important three points.

Highlights are in the link below.

Highlights from FIFA TV

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