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Sound of silence as Qatar hit North Korea for six

AFP  |  Al-Ain(UAE) 

Qatar's scored four goals in a 6-0 Asian Cup rout of Korea on Sunday in the eery atmosphere of a near-empty in the

Ali hit two in the first half and two more in the second to go top of the goalscorers' charts with five altogether, as hosts safely reached the round of 16.

However, there was little excitement at any of Qatar's goals as a long-running Gulf blockade of the resource-rich state prevented any fans from attending the game in Al Ain.

The tiny attendance of roughly 300 in the 16,000-capacity venue was dominated by two small groups of Korean fans who sporadically cheered and waved flags.

In the unusual conditions, Korea were guilty of ball-watching twice early on as went 2-0 up within 11 minutes thanks to Ali's sharp finishing.

Ali had time to control Akram Afif's cross from the left and bury his shot on nine minutes, and he then clipped in Hasan Al-Haydos's ball from the right two minutes later.

With the fans providing the only noise in the stadium, the team from the communist country had a couple of moments at the other end.

Ri Un Chol blazed a powerful shot over from the edge of the box, and saw his header from a corner unfortunately blocked by team-mate

But just before half-time, it was too easy for once again as Afif hoisted a hopeful ball to the far post and Boualem Khouki climbed above his marker to head it in.

- 'Real shame' -


Ali completed the Asian Cup's first hat-trick 10 minutes after half-time, when he coolly dinked the ball over after Afif's slide-rule pass into the box.

Afif fed Sudanese-born Ali again to make it 5-0 before Abdelkarim Hassan, the 2018 Asian of the year, made it six with a strong run and finish.

North Korea, who have now shipped 10 unanswered goals after their 4-0 loss to Saudi Arabia, finished with 10 men after Swiss-based received a second yellow card in time.

Qatar's big win, greeted by a smattering of clapping at the final whistle, also confirmed the Saudis' progression from Group E with both teams on a maximum six points after two games.

Germany's Mark Slonek, one of the small number of neutrals in the oval, all-seater ground, said it was a pity that more fans couldn't make it.

"It's a real shame," said the 43-year-old IT from

"It's like a lower-tier game in Germany, there's maybe 100 people here.

More staff (than fans). I was expecting more than 1,000." It was a far cry from the nearly 34,000 fans at the tournament's curtain-raiser in Abu Dhabi, while more than 76,000 attended the 2015 final in

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, January 13 2019. 19:50 IST