Saudi Arabia’s 100 per cent start to the second round of World Cup 2018 qualifying ended as they were held to a 0-0 draw by Palestine.
Bert van Marwijk’s side had won all four of their previous Group A outings, the past three of which had been under the Dutchman’s leadership, but failed to take their chances at the Amman International Stadium in Jordan – the neutral venue used due to security concerns in Palestine.
The encounter began slowly, with Yahia Al Shehri seeing his deflected effort cleared off the line by Alexis Nourambuena in the best chance of the first half.
Saudi Arabia were let off the hook soon after the restart when Ashraf Alfawaghra fired wide after pouncing on goalkeeper Khaled Sharahili’s poor pass out.
Van Marwijk’s side pushed for a winner to expand their advantage at the top of the group, but Taisir Al Jassim hit the crossbar following a brilliant run from Al Shehri.
The duo combined again late in the game, but Al Jassim skewed wide of the far post with 10 minutes remaining.
Third-placed Palestine move within one point of United Arab Emirates – who have played one game fewer – while Saudi Arabia opened up a six-point lead over the same nation.