Saudi Arabia beat Algeria to boost World Cup preparations

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Saudi Arabia celebrate one of their two goals against Algeria. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia celebrate one of their two goals against Algeria. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia celebrate one of their two goals against Algeria. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia celebrate one of their two goals against Algeria. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia celebrate one of their two goals against Algeria. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia celebrate one of their two goals against Algeria. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia celebrate one of their two goals against Algeria. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia celebrate one of their two goals against Algeria. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia celebrate one of their two goals against Algeria. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia celebrate one of their two goals against Algeria. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia celebrate one of their two goals against Algeria. (SPA)
Updated 11 May 2018

Saudi Arabia beat Algeria to boost World Cup preparations

  • Al-Faraj and Al-Shehri on target for Juan Antonio Pizzi's side
  • The Green Falcons are in action against Greece on Tuesday

CADIZ: A powerful free-kick from Salman Al-Faraj and a cool late finish from Yahya Al-Shehri proved enough to hand Saudi Arabia a much-needed friendly win over Algeria at the Estadio Ramón de Carranza in southern Spain.
With just one win from four games since taking charge late last year, coach Juan Antonio Pizzi knew the importance of victory against a team that finished bottom of its African World Cup qualifying group and who were operating without their overseas players. His predecessor and Argentine compatriot, Edgardo Bauza, was dismissed after five matches.
Pizzi made five changes to the team that started the 4-0 defeat to Belgium in March, with Abdullah Al-Mayouf favored in goal and Osama Hawsawi and Yasir Al-Sharani returning to defence. Al-Faraj, making his first international appearance since suffering a muscle injury in March, joined Hattan Bahbri, the replacement for Fahad Al-Muwallad who had made his La Liga debut just 48 hours earlier with Levante.
The Argentine led Chile to Copa America glory in 2016 with a work ethic built around relentless pressing. His Green Falcons showed brief, early glimpses of a similar intensity, swarming the ball and making it difficult for their opponents to create anything of substance. A criticism often levelled at the Saudi defence, however, is a tendency to switch off at key moments and Saeed Al-Mowallad was guilty inside the first 10 minutes. The Al-Ahli full-back was caught napping to allow Abdennour Belkheir sneak in for a free header, but the Algerian forward failed to hit the target.
The pace and movement of Belkheir continued to cause problems for the Saudi backline and he appeared to have earned his team a penalty when he went to ground in the 22nd minute. The Spanish referee waved play on, however, and it would prove a crucial as Saudi, perhaps stirred by the decision, quickly drove forward. Al-Nassr’s Mohammed Al-Sahlawi tried to turn on the edge of the area, but was bundled over and this time the official showed no hesitance in awarding a free-kick.
Al-Faraj, who had scored only twice before for his country, stepped up and calmly drilled low into the far corner to give Pizzi’s side a lead for the first time since his first match in charge against Moldova in February.
Algeria faded after conceding, but Saudi failed to make the most of their dominance. Al-Jassem elected to shoot from distance when Al-Sahlawi was screaming for a pass; Al-Dawsari beat a high-line only to run out of gas and lose possession; and Bahberi was glad to see the lineman’s flag raised after failing to hit the target from just a few yards out.
They were running riot without ever really testing Toufik Moussaoui in the Algeria goal, the nadir arriving when Al-Jassem broke through the middle and found his teammates outnumbering the Algeria defence four-to-two. It looked certain the Green Falcons would double their lead, but instead, having picked out Al-Faraj, the Hilal midfielder made a rare mistake and the ball was cleared.
Both sides made wholesale substitutions during the second period, which affected the flow of the game. As the tempo dipped, however, the number of late challenges grew, forcing the referee to show seven yellow cards, including to Al-Sharani and Al-Jassem.
With just eight minutes remaining, substitute Yahya Al-Shehri settled the tie. Played in behind a tiring Algerian defence, the stocky Leganes midfielder shaped to fire high, but showed the composure his teammates had been so lacking to slot calmly past Moussaoui at his near post.
Pizzi will hope some of that poise can be shared among his squad before their next match with Greece on Tuesday.

Saudi: Al-Mayouf; Al-Mowallad (Al-Burayk, 85), Hawsawi, Othman, Al-Sharani; Al-Otayf (Jahsan, 88), Al-Dawsari (Al-Shehri, 70), Al-Faraj (Kanoo, 87), Al-Jassem (Al-Khaibri 79), Bahberi (Al-Kowaikbe, 70) ; Al-Sahlawi

Algeria: Toufik Moussaoui; Azzi (Arous, 65), Chafaï, Benmoussa, Naamani; Lakroum (Bougelmouna, 59), Boukhanchouche (Benkhemassa, 45), Bennacer (Zouari, 77), Abid; Belkheir (El-Orfi, 54); El Ouazani (Bourdim, 72)


Mohamed Salah scores two as Liverpool outclass Arsenal in 3-1 win

Updated 24 August 2019

Mohamed Salah scores two as Liverpool outclass Arsenal in 3-1 win

  • Salah converted a penalty after being fouled by David Luiz
  • Liverpool will end the third round of games as the only team with nine points from a possible nine

LIVERPOOL, England: Mohamed Salah converted a penalty before scoring a sublime solo goal as Liverpool beat Arsenal 3-1 to open up a three-point gap at the top of the Premier League on Saturday.
Liverpool hadn’t found its best form in opening wins over Norwich and Southampton, and faced the only other top-flight team with a 100 percent record.
It proved to be a mismatch.
After Joel Matip’s first league goal in 11 months broke the deadlock just before halftime, Salah converted a penalty after being fouled by David Luiz and then made it 3-0 by turning Luiz near halfway, sprinting down the right wing and cutting in to deliver a finish into the bottom corner.
Substitute Lucas Torreira scored a consolation for Arsenal five minutes from the end.
Liverpool will end the third round of games as the only team with nine points from a possible nine.
The game started at a frenetic pace, with the hosts setting a high tempo that penned Arsenal back in the final third. Within 80 seconds, Andy Robertson whipped a ball across the six-yard area which Roberto Firmino narrowly missed.
Arsenal manager Unai Emery’s tactics were to defend deep with eight men behind the ball in an attempt to draw the opponent in before trying to release the explosive pace of offseason signing Nicolas Pepe, given a full debut at the expense of Alexandre Lacazette.
Pepe had three chances in the first half, while Liverpool goalkeeper Adrian — fresh from the error that cost his team a goal at Southampton last week — came out of his area to clear the ball only to find Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who lobbed the ball back just past the far post.
Pepe’s best chance came when Jordan Henderson’s mistake on the halfway line allowed the Ivory Coast international to run past Robertson but, in a one-on-one situation with Adrian, he shot straight at the goalkeeper.
Soon, incessant pressure on Arsenal’s defense began to tell and after Salah held off Granit Xhaka to cleverly turn and fire wide, the breakthrough came.
From a corner, Trent Alexander-Arnold finally found his range and Matip benefited from the space created by Virgil van Dijk’s tangle with Matteo Guendouzi to power home a 41st-minute header.
Sadio Mane should have done better with his header in injury time but if the interval was a period for Arsenal’s players to clear their heads, no one told Luiz who, in a moment of madness four minutes after the break, tugged on Salah’s shirt.
The Egypt international confidently dispatched the penalty and added a second by brilliantly putting the seal on a three-pass move which eliminated most of the opposition.
Started by Adrian and including Alexander-Arnold, the ball came to Fabinho who flicked forward an inviting ball allowing Salah to skip past Luiz with embarrassing ease 40 yards out. He ran into the penalty area before placing a shot inside the far post with his left foot.
It was then an exercise in damage limitation for the visitors, with Emery’s first change being to send on combative midfielder Torreira for playmaker Ivan Ceballos.
Lacazette, scorer of 19 goals last season and one in one match this season, was not introduced until the 81st minute — and even then it was Torreira who eventually found the net, drilling home a loose ball 15 yards out.