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Saudi Arabia 2 Australia 2: Al Shamrani salvages draw for hosts

Nasser Al Shamrani netted a late equaliser to help Saudi Arabia to a 2-2 draw with Australia in Thursday’s World Cup qualifier.

Both sides had won their opening two Group B fixtures and were high on confidence heading into the encounter at the King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah.

The hosts were in charge in the opening stages of the game, though, and deservedly went ahead when Taisir Al Jassim slotted home after a good team move.

Australia slowly grew into the game after the opener and eventually levelled when Trent Sainsbury found the net after a corner, with Tomi Juric then handing them the lead in the 71st minute with an easy finish.

But Al Shamrani had the final say when he tapped home 11 minutes from time as it finished all square.

Saudi Arabia made a brilliant start to the game and grabbed the lead after just five minutes following a fine team move. Yehya Al Shehri latched on to a clever throughball down the right-hand side of the area and cut it back for Al Jassim, who beat goalkeeper Maty Ryan with a low strike from 12 yards out. 

Australia were unfortunate not to level when Brad Smith hit the outside of the post with a powerful shot after a superb run down the left shortly before half-time. 

The visitors did restore parity after all in the 45th minute, though. Aaron Mooy sent in a dangerous corner from the left and Sainsbury did well to win the aerial challenge before heading the ball past the helpless Yasser Al Mosailem.

Bert van Marwijk’s men could have restored their lead after a quick counterattack, but Nawaf Al Abid’s shot from inside the area was blocked by Matthew Spiranovic, with Al Shamrani’s attempt from the rebound also kept out by the centre-back.

The hosts were made to pay for that double miss when Juric struck with just under 20 minutes left. Robbie Kruse sent in a low cross from the right after escaping his marker and Juric had no trouble finding the net from close range.

Saudi Arabia refused to give up, though, and Al Shamrani salvaged a draw when he diverted Hassan Muath Fallatah’s low shot past Ryan from five yards out.

Thu 6 Oct, 2016
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