Qatar have gone back-to-back, winning their second consecutive AFC Asian Cup. The host nation defeated Jordan 3-1 on Saturday thanks to a hat trick and a bit of magic from Akram Afif, with all three goals coming from the penalty spot. That was enough to see Qatar win the tournament. Appearing in their first ever Asian Cup final, Jordan were able to fight back after going behind at halftime. Yazan Al-Naimat's excellent first touch and strike past Qatar keeper Meshaal Barsham in the 67th minute drew the level, but Qatar resonded with their second penalty only five minutes later, before adding a third in injury time.
The pattern of the match was consistent throughout. Jordan had composure early in the match, but when Qatar upped the pressure Jordan cracked. Abdallah Nasib brought down Afif in the box in the 22nd minute and he wouldn't miss from the spot. After scoring, Afif had a celebration to remember, doing a magic trick with cards, flipping a picture of himself into an s, that was dedicated to his wife. Afif did come prepared with two cards, but he wasn't prepared for a third, scoring not only his first international hat trick, but also the first hat trick to ever be scored in an Asian Cup final.
After the half, Jordan put Barsham under pressure before Al-Naimat scored, but it was the mistakes in the box that came back to bite them. Qatar's experience showed. Over the last five years, they've put themselves in a position to succeed, first winning the 2019 Asian Cup, then going to the World Cup and also competing in the Concacaf Gold Cup. This is a seasoned international team.
It was a historic day for Afif as not only did he score his first hat trick while securing the Golden Boot in the Asian Cup with eight goals, but he also totaled a whopping 11 goal contributions. While Jordan went down in defeat, it's a tournament to remember as they've never advanced past the Asian Cup quarterfinals.
Winning Group A, Qatar got past Palestine, Uzbekistan, Iran and Jordan to win the tournament. Marquez Lopez oversaw a composed side that was able to attack with ease and was rewarded as Qatari soccer is rising by the day as they became the first team to become back-to-back Asian champions since Japan in 2000 and 2004.