Qatar defeated El Salvador 3-2 in the quarterfinal stage of the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup on Saturday night at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, after dominating the first half.

Qatar stormed into the game in just 95 seconds. El Salvador midfielder Darwin Ceren’s erroneous pass handed the Qataris an instant counterattack opportunity. Almoez Ali easily past Mario Gonzalez for the early goal, his third in four Gold Cup games, after Abdulaziz Hatem delivered a through pass to the outside of the box.

Only a few minutes later, Qatar delivered an incredible screamer. Hatem, who isn’t known for his goal-scoring ability, tried his luck from 20 yards out. To set the tone for the game, the 30-year-old from Qatari club Al Rayyan blasted the ball past Gonzalez and into the top left-hand corner.

El Salvador offered Qatar another chance to score in the second half when a penalty was awarded for a handball inside the box. Following a Video Review, Ceren’s outstretched arm stopped an Almoez Ali shot, and the referee pointed to the spot. Ali took the penalty himself and scored his fourth goal in the Gold Cup, tying him for the tournament lead.

El Salvador revived some hope in the 63rd minute with a goal. Amando Moreno blasted a ball through the Qatari backline and into the box. Joaquin Rivas beat Qatari goalkeeper Meshaal Barsham to the pass, found a space between his legs, and scored the game-winning goal for his team.

The Central American team grabbed a second goal within seconds, buoyed by the El Salvador-heavy crowd. El Salvador regained possession after a hard tackle inside the Qatari box by Bryan Tamacas. The fullback sent the ball to Rivas, who tapped the ball into an open net to trim their lead to one goal.

Rivas then believed he had achieved his finest achievement, a hat-trick goal to round out the game. However, as he was about to score, the FC Tulsa attacker noticed that the linesman had raised his flag and declared the action offside.

In second-half stoppage time, Rivas had a second great opportunity to complete his hat-trick. This time, Barsham stood tall and prevented the Salvadorans from imposing more time.

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