Analysis: Dominant Saudi Arabia seal historic win over Egypt
Volgograd: Saudi Arabia came from behind to beat Egypt 2-1 and earn their first FIFA World Cup victory in 24 years.
Saudi Arabia kicked-off the game with three changes in the starting lineup from the game against Uruguay, most notably, Juan Antonio Pizzi called upon Yasser Al Mosaileem between the sticks to make it three different goalkeepers in the Green Falcons' three fixtures.
Skipper Osama Hawsawi saw a third different centre-back partner as Motaz Hawsawi replaced Ali Al Bulaihi, who had himself taken the place of Omar Hawsawi.
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Domination leaves space behind
Saudi Arabia persisted with their possession-first philosophy that saw them boast the sixth highest average possession in the tournament with 59%. Against Egypt, they controlled 64% of play.
On the other hand, the Green Falcons left plenty of space at the back, allowing Egypt's Mohamed Salah and Mahmoud Trezeguet the chance to break through with their pace.
In one of Egypt's few attacks, Salah received a long ball from Abdallah El Said and as the two central defenders failed to close in on him promptly, he was able to chip past the advancing Al Mosaileem and into the back of the net, scoring Egypt's only goal of the game.
Pizzi's concentration on the flanks
Pizzi showed he had done his homework as he targeted Egypt's vulnerable defence with an avalanche of crosses as full-backs Yasser Al Shahrani and Mohamed Al Burayk doubled up with wide men Salem Al Dawsari and Hattan Bahebri on the flanks.
The Green Falcons sent 25 crosses over the 90 minutes and despite one of them causing a penalty, lone striker Fahad Al Muwallad failed to connect with any of them.
Al Muwallad's misery was compounded as he watched his only shot on target saved by goalkeeper Essam El Hadary from the penalty spot.
Otayf's balancing act
No player made more successful interceptions than Abdullah Otayf (3), demonstrating his defensive ability in deconstructing the Egyptians' quick counter attacks, while also providing a starting point for Saudi's own build-up.
The Al Hilal midfielder dictated the rhythm of every Saudi attack as he made an impact all over the pitch completing 96% of his 115 passes throughout the game.
At the end of the game, the 25-year-old defensive midfielder crowned his efforts with a shrewd assist inside the Pharaohs' box, setting Al Dawsari up for the winner in added time.
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