Saudi Arabia’s Young Falcons go down to France in opening U-20 World Cup match

Saudi Arabia’s U-20 World Cup campaign got off to a faltering start on Saturday as the young Green Falcons lost 2-0 to France. (AN photo/Ali Khamg)
Updated 27 May 2019
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Saudi Arabia’s Young Falcons go down to France in opening U-20 World Cup match

  • Saudi Arabia’s next game in the tournament is against Mali on Tuesday
  • The U-20 Green Falcons are making their ninth appearance at the event

GDYNIA, Poland: Saudi Arabia’s U-20 World Cup campaign got off to a faltering start on Saturday as the young Green Falcons lost 2-0 to France at the Stadion GOSiR in Gdynia, Poland.
Khaled Al-Atwi’s young guns made the worst possible start as they went down to ten men when Faraj Al-Ghashayan was given his marching orders after just 12 minutes.
However, France labored for their first goal as the Green Falcons stayed resolute in defense. But with two minutes of the first period remaining Strasbourg player Youssouf Fofana, who had come on for the injured Boubakary Soumare midway through the first half, found the net to break the deadlock.
The man advantage was clear for all to see in the second half as Saudi Arabia struggled to make an impact on the match. And France extended their advantage with fifteen minutes left when Lyon’s Amine Gouiri scored to take the game away from Al-Atwi’s side.
Saudi Arabia’s next game in the tournament is against Mali on Tuesday. The African side opened their tournament with a 1-1 draw against Saudi Arabia's other Group E opponents Panama.
The U-20 Green Falcons are making their ninth appearance at the World Cup. In 2017’s edition in South Korea, they were knocked out at the Round of 16 stage by Uruguay, while the Kingdom hosted the event in 1989.


Al-Hilal advance into AFC Champions League semifinals

Updated 18 September 2019

Al-Hilal advance into AFC Champions League semifinals

  • Riyadh-based team beat Al-Ittihad of Jeddah in the all-Saudi final eight showdown

JEDDAH: Al-Hilal battled from one goal down early to beat Al-Ittihad in the all-Saudi quarterfinal and advance to the AFC Champions League semifinals at the King Saud University Stadium in Riyadh.

After a goalless draw in the first leg in Jeddah, Ittihad looked to have the advantage of  the away goals rule after scoring in the 10th minute courtesy of Ziyad Al-Sahafi.

But the Riyadh-based Hilal regrouped and tallied three unanswered goals to qualify for the final four on 3-1 agregate victory in the two-leg final eight contest. Hilal meet Qatar’s Al-Sadd in the semifinals.

Andre Carrillo equalized for Hilal with a goal in the 44th minute. Salem Al-Dawsari  and Italian import Sebastian Giovinco then put Hilal on the way to victory with goals in minutes 48 and 78.

Earlier in Japan, captain fantastic Shinzo Koroki's powerful first-half header via crossbar and goalkeeper proved enough to squeeze Urawa Red Diamonds into the semifinals  at the expense of Shanghai SIPG on the away goals rule Tuesday.

Wang Shenchao equalized for the visitors with a cool volley on the hour, but the Japanese side comfortably held on for a 1-1 draw and a semifinal place courtesy of the goals scored by Tomoaki Makino and Koroki three weeks ago when the first leg was drawn 2-2 in Shanghai.

The prolific Koroki was, however, officially denied his seventh strike of the campaign on a technicality.

Gloveman Yan Junling was credited with an own goal after palming Koroki's 39th-minute header from Takahiro Sekine's cross onto the woodwork and watching helplessly as it cannoned back into his outstretched arm and over the line.

That was harsh on Yan, who had kept his toothless side — packed with expensive imports — in the tie with a string of saves as Urawa pressed for the cushion of a second goal on a sultry night in Saitama.

It was a poor performance by Vitor Pereira's SIPG side, who were devoid of penetration up front without suspended 55 million euro Brazilian striker Hulk, who had scored both first leg goals from the penalty spot as they came from 2-0 down.

Instead they started with Marko Arnautovic at centre forward, the big Austrian having been signed from English Premier League West Ham last month for 25 million euros.

But with playmaker Oscar — who cost 60 million euros from Chelsea — having an off night, chances remained few and far between.

SIPG had little fluency in the attacking third, a familiar trait that has seen them exit with a curious unbeaten streak of seven draws and one win in their last eight matches in this year's Champions League.

Arnautovic's best efforts were a wasteful header over from six yards out, which would not have counted anyway as the referee had blown for a push, and a tame shot easily deflected for a corner eight minutes from time.

After Shenchao's equalizer SIPG still needed another goal but it was Urawa who seconds later came closest, Daiki Hashioka thumping a shot against the crossbar and Tsuyoshi Otsuki's side continued to carry the more serious threat on the counter attack.

Urawa, the 2007 and 2017 AFC Champions League winners, progress to their fourth semi-final appearance where they will face either defending champions Kashima Antlers or Guangzhou Evergrande, who play Wednesday. Their first leg in China ended 0-0.