KUALA LUMPUR: Iraq made short work of 10-man Bahrain, scoring a thumping 5-1 win in the opening match of the pre-Asian Cup Group F first-round tournament at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.
Lanky Younis Khalaf was the star of the night, bagging four goals – in the fifth, 47th, 69th and 83rd minute.
The other goal was scored by Jassim Fayadh in the 20th minute.
Bahrain's consolation goal was scored by substitute Saleh Ahmed Farhan in the 71st minute.
Iraq and Bahrain are rated as the favourites to claim the two slots from the group to the Finals in China next year.
Bahrain had come into the tournament with high expectations but found themselves trailing Iraq by two goals after 20 minutes.
There was more misery for them when Rashed Rahman was sent off for dangerous play in the 58th minute.
Iraq's opening goal came off a brilliant move initiated by midfielder Jassim Fayadh in the fifth minute.
He won the ball in his own half and set up striker Younis with a perfect cross.
As Bahrain struggling to keep up with the Iraqi pace, Jassim nodded in the second goal off a corner kick in the 20th minute.
Younis turned on the heat in the second half with three more goals latching onto a through ball in the 47th, pouncing on a loose ball in the 69th and crashing in a header in the 83rd.
Bahrain: Ali Hassan Abdulla, Hussain Mohamed Hussain, Abdullah Rahman Marzooq, Mahmood Jalal Ebrahim Al Wedae (Husain Salman Maki), Rashed Abdul Rahman Al Doseri, Faisal Abdul Aziz, Talal Yusof, Salman Isa Ghuloom Ali, Hussain Ali Ahmed (Rashid Jamal Salem), Hussain Ali Hassan Ali, Aala Ahmed Hubail (Saleh Ahmed Farhan).
Iraq: Saad Jameel, Haedr Kadhim, Said Ali, Jassim Fayadh (Abbas Zayer), Haythem Taher (Nashat Ali), Rafed Ahmad, Husam Nagi, Haydar Jassim, Ahmed Assad, Qussi Salah (Ali Shteet), Younis Khalaf.