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Tashkent: Aroan Nawaf’s equaliser eight minutes from time ensured West Asian rivals Saudi Arabia and Lebanon shared the spoils after an entertaining 3-3 draw in Matchday Two of Group A in the AFC Futsal Championship on Friday.

An early own goal by Saudi Arabia’s Abdulaziz Al Alouni at Uzbekistan Stadium had given Lebanon the lead but the same player then atoned for his error by scoring at the right end to even the scores.

Ahmad Kheireldine then put Lebanon 2-1 up before Essam Sufyani made it all square at the interval.

Ali Tneich restored Lebanon’s advantage early in the second half but Saudi Arabia again restored parity through Nawaf as both sides remained winless in the continental competition.

“Everyone thought we would be the easiest team but we have again shown them how well we can play,” said Saudi Arabia technical director Yves Heremans.

“The boys learned from their mistakes in the first game when we made three or four individual errors.

“We are improving and developing, and I’m very proud of the team.”

Lebanon took the lead within two minutes when the unfortunate Al Alouni back-headed goalkeeper Hussein Hamadani’s long ball over the top into his own net.

Saudi Arabia almost equalised midway through the first half, though, when Moath Al Asiri broke down the left and squared for Yazeed Dalbouh, but he was thwarted by the outrushing Hamdani.

As the Saudis cranked up the heat, Zafer Jmah drew a fine save from Hamdani in the 13th minute before Al Alouni’s ensuing kick-in was deflected into the Lebanon goal by Kheireldine.

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But Kheireldine made amends less than a minute later by scoring at the other end only for Saudi Arabia to go straight back on the attack and equalise with Sufyani’s second of the tournament to make the scores 2-2 at the break.

Lebanon again went in front three minutes after the interval when Tneich notched his second of the competition after being played in by Kheireldine.

Never far from the action, Kheireldine could have opened up a two-goal advantage midway through the second half but toe-poked wide when one on one with Talal Al Shehri before Tneich spurned another golden opportunity shortly after.

And Abdullah Al Rashoud’s side levelled once more in the 33rd minute when Nawaf side-footed home from a central position before he missed a chance to have won it for his side a minute from time.

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“I think we were better than in the first match and we had many chances to score when we were 2-1 and 3-2 up,” said Lebanon coach Francisco Araujo.

“But we looked tired and we found it hard to make the right decisions at the right time. I know my team well so I’m worried as we were not ourselves.

“I told my players to pass from the back but we kept giving it away.”

Photo: AFC

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