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Iceland held by last-gasp Qatar

Doha (AFP) – A last-minute equaliser from Qatar’s Mohammed Muntari meant Iceland warmed up for their World Cup finals debut in Russia next year without a win in two friendly matches in Doha.

The 1-1 draw on Tuesday followed up their 2-1 defeat against the Czech Republic in Qatar last week.

Muntari slammed home from close distance to force a deserved draw for the World Cup 2022 hosts following a laboured performance by Iceland.

And it could have been even worse for the Europeans as Qatar’s Ahmed Mohamed even had a chance to win the game very late on.

Iceland had looked set for a routine victory after Vidar Orn Kjartansson scored the game’s opening goal in the 26th minute after being put through by skipper Gylfi Sigurdsson, who pounced on a mistake by the Qatari defence.

But they were unable to see off a youthful Qatari side — whose average age was just 24 — and who did not qualify for next year’s finals.

Qatar enjoyed lots of possession though, in truth, rarely threatened the Iceland goal.

When they did it was usually through the captain Hasan al-Haydos, whose 11th minute 20-yard shot, superbly saved by Ogmundur Kristinsson was the closest they came to scoring.

Qatar’s Abdelkarim Hassan also forced a fine save late on from a free kick.

Iceland, with a population of just 330,000, are the smallest nation to have qualified for a World Cup.

Dentist-turned-international football coach Heimir Hallgrimsson fielded a makeshift side, and made several changes throughout the game, though Everton’s Sigurdsson played the full 90 minutes.

Iceland, who qualified for Russia in style in a group containing Croatia, Turkey and  Ukraine, were more subdued in Doha.

They also threatened rarely in a scrappy game and were hanging on by the end of the match as Qatar pressed for the equaliser.

Just 2,758 people watched the game in Doha’s Abdullah bin Khalifa Stadium.

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