By Sports Reporter/ Doha
Saudi Arabia defeated defending champions Oman 3-1 to enter the semi-finals of the 24th Arabian Gulf Cup yesterday.
With the win at the Abdullah Bin Khalifa Stadium, Saudi Arabia finished with six points from three matches and qualified for the last-four stage along with Bahrain from Group B.
Oman finished with a tally of four points from a win, a loss and a draw and did not make it to the knockouts. Oman lost the qualification race, after Bahrain too earned four points from the group stages and went through on better goal difference.
Herve Renard’s side play Group A runners-up Qatar in the semi-final on Thursday while Group A winners Iraq will meet Bahrain.
Saudis, who took to the field in the first match of the group without seven of the AFC Champions League-winning Al Hilal players, were a transformed side in their next two matches.
Needing a win to qualify for the semi-finals, Saudi Arabia side dominated the first half. They only needed a minute to have their first look at the Oman goal, with captain Salman al-Faraj testing Oman goalkeeper Fayez al-Rusheidi with a thunderous drive.
Saudi Arabia continued pressing and al-Rusheidi was beaten in the 26th minute when Salem al-Dawsari sent a neat pass to Feras Albrikan, whose shot grazed the underside of the crossbar before settling in the net.
Saudi Arabia, who are the last team to win back-to-back Gulf Cup titles, doubled their lead three minutes before the break. Hatan Bahabri had plenty of time and space inside the area to score with a powerful shot, with the ball taking a deflection off Oman defender Mohamed al-Musalami.
Oman pulled a goal back in the 55th minute with Al Mandhar al-Alawi finishing a solo effort with a powerful drive past Saudi Arabia goalkeeper Fawaz al-Qarni.
However, Oman’s joy lasted only two minutes as Saudi Arabia scored their third goal when Feras Albrikan sent a pass inside the area to Bahabri, who curled a left-foot shot from the right side past the goalkeeper.
Oman fought to find a way to equalise in the fixture, but fell short as the full time whistle blew with Saudi Arabia winning the game 3-1, leaving their only hope of qualification dependent on the results of the simultaneous fixture between Kuwait and Bahrain which eventually went against the defending champions.
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