Qatar beat hosts United Arab Emirates 4-0 to reach the final of the Asian Cup in a game that witnessed UAE fans throwing shoes at opposition players.
The Qatar national anthem was also loudly booed by home fans amid political tensions between the nations.
Qatar has been cut off by some of its Arab neighbours, including the UAE, over its alleged support for terrorism.
“It wasn’t an easy situation,” said Qatar coach Felix Sanchez.
“The players were aware there was going to be a lot of pressure but they managed their emotions quite well. I’m very proud of them.”
Boualem Khoukhi put Qatar, the hosts for the 2022 World Cup, in front in the eighth minute before Almoez Ali increased the lead later in the first half with his eighth goal of the tournament.
Hassan Al-Haydos and Hamid Ismail added further goals after the break as Qatar reached the Asian Cup final for the first time.
They will play four-time winners Japan in the final on Friday.
‘Shoe-throwing and humbling scoreline will not be forgotten in a hurry’
Before the match, it was impossible to gauge the mood of the crowd as any prospect of an organic atmosphere developing was squashed flat by a deafening sound system.
But the hearty booing of the Qatari national anthem left no doubt. The tone had been set.
But apart from booing a few early touches, the Emiratis seemed more interested in supporting their own team.
After the Asian Cup’s leading goalscorer, Almoez Ali, curled in a shot to make it 2-0, his celebration was met with several shoes thrown by the crowd.
In the Middle East, being attacked by a shoe is considered to be the ultimate insult because it implies that the victim is lower than the dirt on the bottom of a shoe.
For the rest of the game, plastic missiles were regularly aimed at corner takers but it was after Qatar went 3-0 up through Hasan Al-Haydos that the crowd really let itself down.
Many more shoes flew onto the pitch, causing a significant delay to the match and the home players to implore their fans to stop.
The shoe-throwing won’t be forgotten in a hurry, and neither will Qatar’s humbling of one of its blockaders – in either country.