x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Saudis batter Yemen for six

Saudi Arabia went on a goalscroing spree against a hapless Yemen to increase their chances of securing qualification to the semi-finals of the Gulf Cup.

MUSCAT // Saudi Arabia went on a goalscroing spree against a hapless Yemen to increase their chances of securing qualification from Group B for the semi-finals of the Gulf Cup. The three times champions put the game to bed in the first quarter by running up a 4-0 lead and then consolidating it with a fifth 10 minutes before the break, before a second for Malik Maaz eight minutes from time put the finishing touches on a 6-0 drubbing. Yasir al Qahtani opened the floodgates when he smashed home from an Abdo Ibrahim pass in the fourth minute. Maaz headed in from a free-kick from the right flank to double the lead eight minutes later. Abdulla Shahil and Ahmad Ibrahim struck a goal each, both from defensive mistakes, within two minutes to virtually seal the game with the match barely 25 minutes old. Ahmad al Mousa added a fifth, beating a host of defenders before unleashing a shot from the edge of the box. By now, it was a case of how many the Saudis would go on to win by ahead of their final group game against the UAE on Sunday. Both the Saudis and the UAE are level on four points, with Qatar on two, who take on Yemen on the same night. The goals scored will count if the three teams end up on five points with tonight's result giving the Saudis a healthy four-goal cushion over the UAE in second place. If the UAE, Saudi and Qatar should finish on level points, progression will come down to goals scored, putting the Saudis firmly in the driving seat. Yemen, who are ranked 97 places below the Saudis in the Fifa rankings, were never in the game after the two early goals. And to add further misery for them, substitute Ali Abood Awadh was red carded, reducing them to 10 players on the pitch for the second time in this tournament. Despite the flurry of goals early in the game and the numerical advantage they had in the last quarter, Nasser al Johar's men could only add a single goal to their tally. Maaz scoring again with a header to seal it.

apassela@thenational.ae