Qatar's rampant first half saw them take all three points at BBVA Stadium in Houston Saturday evening, defeating Grenada 4-0 in Group D play.
Qatar opened up the scoring in the 11th minute in controversial fashion after attacking midfielder Abdulaziz Hatem had appeared to touch the ball with his hand before scoring, but upon a lengthy VAR review that took nearly five minutes, referee Armando Villarreal couldn't find enough evidence to overturn the initial goal decision.
Shortly thereafter, Qatar found a second through midfielder Akram Afif. The midfielder dribbled across the box and hit a curling effort across the night into the side-netting in the 22nd minute, scoring in sensational fashion.
The 2022 World Cup hosts added a third before the halftime break in the 36th minute when Muhammad Mustafi headed home off of a corner. Qatar then went into the break with a 3-0 lead, but it easily could have been more if it weren't for a few incredible misses around Grenada's 6-yard-box.
Qatar's dominance continued immediately into the second half when it didn't even take them 60 seconds to find the back of the net and add a fourth goal. Center forward Almoez Ali was their fourth different goalscorer on the night after he tucked the ball neatly into the back of the net in the 46th minute after finding the ball at his feet right on top of the six-yard-box.
Qatar's attacking dominance proved to be too much for the Concacaf minnows, who only managed to develop one true attacking chance late in the first half.
Qatar have 14 players with 60+ cap and the confidence and chemistry between players was visible to anyone watching. They're a very well-coached side and it will be interesting to see how they fare in the knockout stage, however, they hit their brakes after they went up 2-0.
They seemed to be comfortable coasting throughout the match with the lead they had, and any chances that happened to come their way, they would take. In a very difficult Group D that has three teams competing for two spots to advance, if it comes down to goal-differential in the long run, Qatar could look back here and rue their missed chances in the first half.
- 11' - QAT - Abdulaziz Hatem
- 22' - QAT - Akram Afif
- 36' - QAT - Mohammed Muntari
- 46' - QAT - Almoez Ali
- THE BIG PICTURE: Qatar are good, and frankly, they are really well coached, too. However, they played very relaxed after going up 2-0 inside the opening half hour. They had some stunning misses and sloppy giveaways. If they want to compete as a dark horse and make waves in the knockout stages, they can't turn the switch off; it has to stay on for the entirety of the match. For Grenada, this is their second-straight game where they allowed four goals to their opposition without scoring, leaving them at a -8 goal-differential.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Qatar's opening goal in the 11th minute. The controversial goal set the tone for the match. It appeared at first that there may have been a foul in the buildup, but upon closer look, there also appeared to be a handball in the process too. However, the different looks that referee Armando Villarreal received on his teleprompter were not sufficient enough to prove that him giving a goal was a clear and obvious error.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Akram Afif. The Qatari midfielder ran the show after scoring his second goal of the tournament. He controlled the tempo and led nearly every counter attack. On-air FOX Sports Commentator's John Strong and Stu Holden mentioned him as a possible player of the Group Stage — if he keeps his good form up, he could help lead his side to a surprise knockout stage visit.
- QAT: Tuesday, July 20 vs. Honduras | 10:00 pm ET | FS1, TUDN, Univision | Concacaf Gold Cup Group Stage
- GRN: Tuesday, July 20 vs. Panama | 9:00 pm ET | FS1, TUDN, Univision | Concacaf Gold Cup Group Stage