Saudi Arabia seal late win against Uzbekistan in Asian Qualifiers

Saudi Arabia’s Green Falcons celebrate their 3-2 win against Uzbekistan at the Asian Qualifiers in Tashkent on Thursday. (Uzbekistan Football Association, Saudi Arabian Football Federation)
Updated 15 November 2019

Saudi Arabia seal late win against Uzbekistan in Asian Qualifiers

  • Al-Dawsari scores winner as Green Falcons come from behind to claim three points
  • Uzbekistan hope to bounce back when they host Palestine on Tuesday

TASHKENT, Uzbekistan:  Saudi Arabia twice came from a goal down to defeat Uzbekistan 3-2 in Group D of the Asian Qualifiers on Thursday. 

It was a crucial win for the Green Falcons, taking the three-time Asian Cup winners to the top of Group D.

Uzbekistan came into the tie confident, having bounced back from an opening day loss to record back-to-back victories.

The Central Asians applied heavy pressure from the start and were rewarded after just 16 minutes, with Ikromjon Alibaev forcing Saudi defender Yasir Gharsan Al-Shahrani into a poor back pass, which Eldor Shomurodov neatly intercepted and blasted past keeper Mohammed Al-Owais.

Saudi Arabia, with one win and two draws in their previous matches, were not discouraged by the early deficit, though, and they pushed the hosts back in search of an equalizer.

BACKGROUND

Saudi Arabia, with one win and two draws in their previous matches, were not discouraged by the early deficit, though, and they pushed the hosts back in search of an equalizer.

It came six minutes later when Rustamjon Ashurmatov brought down a surging Feras Tariq Al-Brikan in the box, and referee Ryuji Sato pointed to the penalty spot. Saudi skipper Salman Al-Faraj converted with ease.

Ten minutes into the second half Uzbekistan won a penalty of their own when the hapless Al-Shahrani handled in the area. Shukurov made no mistake from the spot.

Saudi Arabia’s head coach Hervé Renard then sent on Abdulaziz Al-Beshi and Nawaf Al-Abed in the 62nd and 72nd minutes to rejuvenate the Green Falcons’ attack, as the visitors threw bodies forward in search of goals.

The Uzbek defense eventually cracked in the 85th minute as Al-Dawsari’s cross was not properly dealt with by Farrukh Sayfiev, and Al-Faraj volleyed home the loose ball to make it 2-2.

Vadim Abramov’s charges were now under pressure and cracked again just before the 90th minute as Al-Dawsari beat the Uzbekistan defenders and lobbed the ball over Eldorbek Suyunov to complete the comeback.

Uzbekistan hope to bounce back when they host Palestine on Tuesday.

 


Free-scoring Salzburg pose serious threat to leaky Liverpool

Updated 10 December 2019

Free-scoring Salzburg pose serious threat to leaky Liverpool

  • Injury-hit Reds have consistently leaked goals despite streaking clear at the top of Premier League

LONDON: Liverpool travel to Salzburg on Tuesday needing to avoid defeat to the confident Austrian champions to guard against an embarrassing Champions League group stage exit for the holders.

Jurgen Klopp's men are used to getting through to the knockout stages the hard way. In each of the past two seasons they have needed home wins to secure a place in the last 16 before going on to make the final.

However, the specter of a free-scoring Salzburg, led by the Champions League's top scorer in Erlin Braut Haaland spells trouble for an injury-hit Liverpool backline that has consistently leaked goals this season despite streaking clear at the top of the Premier League.

The Reds' recorded a first clean sheet in 14 games in Saturday's 3-0 win at Bournemouth, but lost another center back as Dejan Lovren limped off in the first half.

Should the Croatian miss the trip to Austria, Joe Gomez will be Klopp's only fit partner for Virgil van Dijk in central defense.

Van Dijk narrowly missed out to Lionel Messi in the battle for the Ballon d'Or last week in recognition of the transformative effect he has had on Liverpool's fortunes over the past two years.

But even the towering Dutchman has been incapable of stopping the steady flow of goals against in recent months.

Injuries have meant there has been a constant rotation of Lovren, Gomez and Joel Matip alongside Van Dijk, while the attacking impetus offered by fullbacks Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold leaves space in behind to be exploited.

Goalkeeper Alisson Becker also missed the first two months of the season due to a calf injury to further unsettle the backline.

The Brazilian is now back, but another injury to Fabinho has robbed the back four of the best player to protect them in the holding midfield role.

"I forgot how it feels, to be honest," said Klopp on finally ending the long wait for a clean sheet at the weekend.

"It's great, we should have them more often. It was the most-used word in the dressing room by the boys — "clean sheet, clean sheet, clean sheet."

"Obviously everybody was desperate for that, now we have it so let's have it more often.

"The next game where a clean sheet would be useful is already around the corner, against Salzburg on Tuesday."

That is easier said than done as Liverpool know from their first meeting with Jesse Marsch's men in October.

The hosts seemed to be cruising to another Anfield win in the Champions League as they raced into a 3-0 lead, but Salzburg hit back to level at 3-3 before Mohamed Salah's winner ensured Liverpool edged a seven-goal thriller.

Salzburg have scored 87 goals in 24 games in all competitions this season, 28 of which have come from Norwegian wonderkid Haaland in just 21 appearances.

The 19-year-old started on the bench when the sides met at Anfield due to injury, but came on to inspire the visitors' revival in the second half and scored one of his eight Champions League goals.

"He's not the only threat from Salzburg but he's a proper one," said Klopp of the danger posed by Haaland ahead of the sides' first clash.

Salzburg need to win to make the last 16 on their first appearance in the group stage in 25 years.

A point would be enough for Liverpool to progress, but they need to win to secure top spot in Group E ahead of Napoli.

Given Liverpool's paucity of clean sheets and Salzburg's thirst for goals, attack would appear to be the best form of defencse for the European champions.