Basra, Iraq: Bahrain and Qatar advanced to the 2023 Gulf Cup semi-finals after playing to 1-1 draws against Kuwait and United Arab Emirates respectively on Friday.
Defending champions Bahrain ended their Group B campaign on seven points while Qatar advanced ahead of Kuwait on goal difference thanks to Tameem al Abdullah’s late equaliser against UAE.
Earlier on Thursday, Oman and hosts Iraq advanced semis with impressive victories.
Iraq topped Group A with a sizzling 5-0 win over Yemen while Oman produced a gritty performance to defeat Saudi Arabia 2-1.
Oman took the lead in the 34th minute through Al Mundher al Alawi.
Although Turki al Ammar equalised for Saudi Arabia, captain Harib al Saadi scored from distance in the 84th minute to help Oman seal all three points and a place in the last four.
Oman will play Bahrain on Monday while Qatar will take on hosts Iraq in the other last-four tie.
Bahrain came into the tie only needing a draw to advance after having won their earlier two matches while victory was imperative for Kuwait to keep their campaign alive.
Defending champions Bahrain, however, started on the front foot and took the lead through Mahdi al Humaidan in the 26th minute.
Going behind forced Kuwait into a more attacking mode as they pressed forward in numbers.
Their aggression paid off just before the half-time whistle with Shabib al Khaldi equalising.
Needing to win, Kuwait dominated possession in the second half but suffered a setback when Hamad al Qallaf was sent off in the 68th minute as Bahrain held on to claim the top spot and keep their hopes of retaining the title alive.
Despite having suffered a 2-1 defeat to Bahrain on Matchday Two, Qatar knew a win would put them through to the semi-finals.
The reigning AFC Asian Cup winners, however, found the already-eliminated UAE a tough nut to crack.
UAE, having lost their previous two matches, were determined to exit on a high and stunned Qatar by taking the lead through Fabio Lima in the 77th minute.
Qatar, however, fought back and their determination paid dividends two minutes from the end of regulation time when Al Abdullah levelled the tie to take them through to the semi-finals.