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)


Liverpool cleared to win Premier League at Anfield

Atletico Madrid’s Marcos Llorente scores a goal against Liverpool during their match in London. The Reds will play against Everton on June 21. (Reuters/File)
Updated 06 June 2020

Liverpool cleared to win Premier League at Anfield

  • All remaining 92 Premier League games this season will be played behind closed doors, but there are fears that hosting the game in Liverpool could encourage supporters to congregate around stadiums

LONDON: Premier League leaders Liverpool could claim a first title for 30 years at Anfield after the initial batch of fixtures of the restart was announced on Friday.
Jurgen Klopp’s men, with a commanding 25-point lead at the top of the table, were just two wins away from clinching the title before coronavirus forced the suspension of football in March.
Liverpool’s first match back is against Everton on June 21. The Merseyside derby is due to take place at Goodison Park, less than a mile from Anfield, but a venue has not been confirmed by the Premier League. Crystal Palace will then visit Anfield three days later.
Wins in both of those matches would guarantee Liverpool’s first English top-flight title since 1990. But if Manchester City lose at home to Arsenal on June 17, the Reds would be champions if they beat Everton.
Liverpool City Council’s safety advisory group will meet next week to make a decision on whether the game can go ahead at Goodison or should be moved to a neutral venue.
All remaining 92 Premier League games this season will be played behind closed doors, but there are fears that hosting the game in Liverpool could encourage supporters to congregate around stadiums.

SPEEDREAD

Liverpool’s first match back is against Everton on June 21. The Merseyside derby is due to take place at Goodison Park, less than a mile from Anfield, but a venue has not been confirmed by the Premier League. Crystal Palace will then visit Anfield three days later.

The only other match that could be moved to a neutral venue from the first three rounds of fixtures is Liverpool’s visit to City on July 2.
The mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, voiced fears that “there would be many thousands of people who would turn up outside Anfield” on the day Liverpool’s long wait for a league title was ended.
That has been disputed by the club, who said they have engaged with supporters’ groups to make sure social-distancing guidelines are followed.
Aston Villa will host Sheffield United in the first match of “Project Restart,” followed by Arsenal’s trip to City on June 17.
Manchester United’s visit to Tottenham will spearhead the first full round of matches spread over four days from June 19 to 22.
Premier League CEO Richard Masters said: “We know it won’t be the same without our loyal supporters in stadiums but, together with our broadcast partners, we are able to ensure fans can watch or listen to each match live from home.”