DUBAI: Saudi Arabia put on an excellent display of attacking football only to fall 3-2 to 10-man Germany thanks to several defensive mistakes in the Group D match at Yokohama International Stadium.
The defeat means Saudi Arabia, with no points from two matches, will depart Tokyo 2020 after the final clash against Brazil on Wednesday.
Ragnar Ache should have given Germany the lead after only three minutes but headed wide when the goal was at his mercy. In the next two minutes Al-Rubaie saved smartly from Eduard Lowen and Max Kruse as Germany piled on the pressure.
In the sixth minute, Abdullah Al-Hamdan thought he had given Saudi Arabia the lead when he finished smartly after collecting Salem Al-Dossary’s cross, but his effort was disallowed for handball. It looked a very harsh decision, and it would not be the only time in the match the Saudis would be aggrieved by the officials.
Saudi players suddenly looked lively and started stretching the German back line, with Yasser Al-Shahrani in particular causing trouble down the left flank.
But 11 minutes into the match, a wonderful passing move was finished off by Nadiem Amiri of Bayer Leverkusen for his second goal of the tournament.
Saudi Arabia should have levelled when Al-Hamdan’s deft pass found Sami Al-Najei free in the German penalty box, but his shot cleared the bar wastefully.
The young Falcons, however, would not be denied on the half hour when Al-Dossary’s shot was parried by German goalkeeper Florian Muller into the path of Al-Najei, who tapped from close range for a deserved equalizer.
While the Saudis were showing great ambition in attack, Germany consistently looked dangerous on the break and Al-Rubaie had to save smartly from Cedric Teuchert seven minutes before the break.
On the stroke of half time, Germany retook the lead when Amos Pieper’s brilliant pass was met on the volley by Ache, and though Al-Rubaie saved yet again, the Eintracht Frankfurt forward reacted the quickest to stab home the rebound.
It was harsh on the Saudis, who had more than held their own in the first half.
Just five minutes after the break, the Saudis were level again thanks to arguably their best move of the match, which culminated with Saud Abdulhamid’s cross brilliantly turned in by Al-Najei.
A superb run by Al-Shahrani minutes later was almost finished by Al-Dossary but Muller stood firm. The Germans were rocking but in the blink of an eye could have taken the lead after another excellent team move saw Amiri shoot wide.
On 65 minutes, Al-Dossary almost scored with a carbon copy of his effort against Ivory Coast, but the ball flew just wide of Muller’s lefthand post.
Saad Al-Shehri’s team was given a huge boost when Pieper was sent off, with some help from VAR, for a blatant trip on the excellent Al-Dossary.
Despite the disadvantage, Germany took the lead with 15 minutes left when substitute Felix Uduokhai headed Kruse’s corner firmly past Al-Rubaie. The match could have been put to bed several time but Ache in particular was wasteful.
Al-Dossary had another golden chance to score Saudi Arabia’s third goal on 88 minutes from a tight angle, but Muller saved well with his legs.
It would prove the last big chance of the match, and the final whistle saw the disappointed Saudi players sink to their knees.