LONDON: A goal from Saleh Al-Shehri was enough for Saudi Arabia to complete a perfect week in the AFC Asian World Cup Qualifiers, as they registered their second victory in five days with a 1-0 win against Oman at Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex on Thursday.
Al-Shehri’s strike, which was the culmination of a great team move, was the key moment in a cagey and hard-fought match.
Despite late pressure from Oman, playing at home for the first time since 2019 in front of a raucous 10,000-strong crowd, Saudi Arabia survived a late scare to seal the win.
The three points puts the Green Falcons level with Group B leaders Australia on the maximum six points after two matches. The Socceroos won their match against Vietnam in Hanoi 1-0 earlier in the day.
Saudi Arabia go into next month’s home fixtures against Japan and China looking to maintain their perfect start, while Oman face a tough test in Australia in Sydney before returning home to face Vietnam.
Elsewhere, in Group A, Syria held the UAE to an entertaining draw in an end-to-end match in Amman.
The Emiratis took the early lead after Syrian goalkeeper Ibrahim Alma fumbled Shahin Abdulrahman’s long range pass, which allowed Ali Mabkhout to poke home for his 77th international goal.
The goal takes the UAE legend past Argentinian Lionel Messi in the international goal count, and level with Brazilian great Pele.
Mahmood Al-Baher was the hero for Syria as he lashed home from a Mahmood Al-Mawas’ cross from the right hand side.
The result means UAE have two points from as many games, while Syria also remain without a win and just one point from the first two games.