AFC Asian Cup 2019: Saudi Arabia storm into Round of 16 with 2-0 win over Lebanon

Saudi Arabia Lebanon Asian Cup

Saudi Arabia defeats Lebanon 2-0 in Group E of the AFC Asian Cup 2019 on Saturday to ensure progression to the knockout stages of the continental championship for the first time in three attempts. 

The Green Falcons had failed to make it out of their group in the 2011 and 2015 Asian Cup, but two wins out of two in the United Arab Emirates means that Juan Antonio Pizzi’s men have guaranteed a place in the Round of 16 before their crunch clash against Qatar to be held on January 17.

Saudi had thrashed DPR Korea 4-0 in their opening match and they started on the same vein against Lebanon as well. And it was Al-Muwallad, who was scorn for his wastefulness in front of the goal in that game against the North Koreans, who launched the Saudis into the team.

The Lebanon defence failed to clear their lines and the winger who plays as the front man for Saudi got onto the end of the loose ball at the edge of the box and blasted a first-time effort past Lebanese goalkeeper Mehdi Khalil to give the Green Falcons the lead in the 12th minute.

Lebanon came close nicking when Joan Oumari, playing at his club side Al-Nasr Dubai SC’s home ground, got at the end of a corner kick. But the 30-year-old who was unmarked at the far post headed the ball wide of the goal passing on a great opportunity for the Cedars to equalise.

Despite leading, Saudi’s backline did not look all that convincing and a Kassem Al Zein long throw-in in the 15th minute caused some concern for the Saudi Arabian defence before being collected by goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Owais. Seven minutes later, another set-piece created concerns as George Felix Melki failed to get a touch on a delicious free kick delivery.

Hatten Bahebri, who had curled in Saudi’s first goal in their previous match, had another curling effort — this time a much more audacious effort from wide right with his left foot that was punched out by Lebanon shot-stopper with some discomfort. But Saudi soon got the safety of another goal and Bahebri was behind it as well.

The Al-Shabbab winger toyed with the Lebanese defender before sending a cross with his venomous left and Hussain Al-Mogahwi was there to apply the finish and double Saudi Arabia’s lead. And that is how it stayed when the referee blew the whistle for the full time.

LEBANON: Mehdi Khalil, Kassem Al Zein, Joan Oumari, Mootaz El Jounaidi, Robert Melki, Ali Hamam, Haytham Faour (Mohamed Tahan 73′), George Felix Melki, Hassan Maatouk (Nader Matar 76′), Mohamad Haidar (Mohamed Tahan 86′), Hilal Alhelwe

SAUDI ARABIA: Mohammed Al-Owais, Hamdan Al-Shamrani, Ali Hadi Albulayhi, Mohammed Al-Fatil, Mohammed Al-Breik, Abdullah Otayf (Ibrahim Ghaleb 84′), Hatan Bahbri, Abdulaziz Al-Bishi (Abdulrahman Ghareeb 79′), Hussain Al-Mogahwi, Salem Al-Dawsari, Fahad Al-Muwallad (Ibrahim Ghaleb 73′)