A stunning volley from Hilal Al Helwe saw Lebanon edge Djibouti to earn a place at the FIFA Arab Cup. They will now play Algeria, Egypt and Sudan in Group D.
Lebanon were the heavy favourites heading into the qualifier. The Cedars (93) sit 90 places above Djibouti (183) in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking.
However, Djibouti proved to be stern opposition for Lebanon as they thwarted several attacks in large part thanks to goalkeeper Mbonihankuye Innocent.
Innocent kept Lebanon at bay as he was alert off his line effectively, especially defending set-pieces. Djibouti produced one of the most significant chances of the first half when, after some patient build-up play, Mahamoud Doualeh attempted a shot on target only for it to be deflected out for a corner.
Lebanon woke up immediately after the break and it was Al Helwe who produced the necessary magic for coach Jamal Taha’s side within the first minute. Al Helwe thundered a shot past Innocent and showed great concentration to volley in Mohamad Haidar’s lofted pass directly out of the air.
Djibouti nearly found an equaliser 10 minutes later when Mahabeh Mahdi was played through on goal, but Lebanon keeper Mehdi Khalil came off his line and made the vital save to ultimately see the Cedars seal their place at the Arab Cup in November.