Qatar start Gold Cup campaign with draw against Panama

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Guests of the tournament, Qatar made their Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean (CONCACAF) Gold Cup debut with a 3-3 draw against Panama in Houston.

The hosts of the 2022 FIFA World Cup were invited to take part in the 2021 and 2023 Gold Cup competitions by CONCACAF last year, as part of a “major collaboration”.

Qatar is one of seven countries to have participated as a guest in the competition and is the second Asian country to participate after South Korea.

The Asian Cup winners marked their Group D debut after taking the lead three times against Panama, before being brought back to the BBVA stadium.

Neither team managed to break through in the first half despite a string of chances, with all six goals coming in in the second half.

Akram Afif put Qatar ahead four minutes after half-time, shooting a volley from inside the penalty area after a recoil.

Panama produced an instant response with Qatar goalkeeper Meshaal Barsham forced to shoot a fierce shot over his crossbar.

His save provided only momentary relief, as Rolando Blackburn led Panama to the next corner.

Qatar’s lead was restored when Afif sent Almoez Ali on goal, the forward producing a powerful low finish for the third goal in five minutes of the second half.

Goals continued to flow in with Blackburn coming into Qatar’s box to lead an Edgar Barcenas cross past Barsham’s dive to bring Panama back to level.

A fifth goal in 15 minutes was scored by Hassan Al Haydos, the Qatari striker scoring a penalty in the Panamanian net after a foul in the box.

Qatar were again unable to maintain their advantage, having conceded their own penalty in the 78th minute.

Eric Davis put his effort into the top left corner of Qatar’s net to tie the game at 3-3, his strike being the end goal of an entertaining encounter.

Group D is set to continue later today, with Honduras hoping to start their tournament with a victory over Grenada.

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