gulf cup

Saudi Arabia beat Bahrain 2-0 to keep alive semifinal hope

DOHA: Saudi Arabia overcame Bahrain 2-0 on Saturday to keep alive their semifinal hope in the 24th Arab Gulf Cup here at the Al Duhail Stadium.

Saudi Arabia’s victory has thrown Group B's last two matches on Monday wide open as Oman (4 points), Saudi Arabia (3), Kuwait (3) and Bahrain all have a chance to progress to the last four.

Herve Renard's men will take on the defending champions while Kuwait face Bahrain, who are yet to open their account in the competition.

Abdullah Al Hamdan opened the scoring in the 29th minute while Mohammed Abdu Khubrani headed home the second in the 59th to help the three-time winners notch up their first win in the tournament.

The win boosted the confidence of the Saudis, who suffered a surprise 3-1 defeat against Kuwait in the first match in Group B.  

Saudi coach was thrilled to see his team in the right frame of mind.

It was a controlled aggression though the Green Falcons couldn’t increase the margin.

In fact, it was a complete transformation from what they showed against the Kuwaitis.

Their attacks were channelized through the left-flank, led by Salem Mohammed Al Dosari.

The 28-year-old winger was in devastating form as his solo runs proved quite a handful for the Bahrain back-line. The Al Hilal winger forged a great understanding with Nawaf Shaker Al Abid to orchestrate most of his team’s forays.

Following the hits-and-misses since kick-off, Saudis finally broke the deadlock.

Al Abid played one-on-one with Mohammed Ibrahim Kanu on top the box before releasing for Al Hamdan, whose left-footed attempt beat goalkeeper Hamad Al Dosari hands down.

Bahrain literally struggled to plug in the gap on the left as the Saudis wreaked havoc on their fragile defence.

Al Hamdan had the opportunity to increase the lead in the 50th minute, but he failed to control the ball after Al Dosari shot deflected off the far post.

The 20-year-old, who plays for Al Shabab in the Saudi Professional League, had another chance to beat Al Dosari, but his shot kissed the near post and rolled over the goal-line.

Bahrain and Yemen are the only two teams who have never won the regional competition since it was in 1970. 

Follow: @mdamins 

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