Group C: Jordan 2-2 Saudi Arabia
Changshu: Saudi Arabia scored twice in the final minutes to come back from two goals down to salvage a 2-2 draw with Group C rivals Jordan in their AFC U23 Championship opener on Wednesday.
A goal in each half from Baha Faisal looked set to secure all three points for Iain Brunskill’s side but goals from Abdulelah Al Amri and Rakan Al Anaze meant the teams settled for a point apiece.
Jordan took the lead just 12 minutes into the game after Ali Lajami gifted possession to Faisal midway inside the Saudi Arabia half and the 22-year-old was only too happy to take full advantage as he slipped the ball past Amin Al Bukhari to score.
The Saudis appeared to be affected by the cold, and Daniel Teglia’s side took time to find their rhythm. Abdulaziz Al Aryani threatened to open up the Jordanian defence, only for Rafat Al Rabie to drop down and snuff out the opportunity.
Mousa Suleiman was a constant threat down the right side for Jordan with the ball at his feet, and it took a sharp block from Al Bukhari to deny him in the 20th minute while, with 10 minutes remaining in the half, Yazan Al Arab’s header was also kept out.
Osama Al Khalaf was becoming increasingly influential for Saudi Arabia as the half wore on and it was his inch-perfect pass over the top of the Jordan defence that provided Sami Al Naji with his side’s best chance of the half. But Al Rabie’s quick dash off the line allowed him to block the Al Nassr midfielder’s shot.
Saudi Arabia continued to probe for the equaliser throughout the second half, but Jordan held firm with Mustafa Kamil forced to clear off the line on the hour mark.
That defensive resilience was to pay off 12 minutes from time as Faisal claimed his side’s second when he created a goal from nothing, turning 25 yards from goal to thump a right-foot strike past Al Bukhari.
Al Rabie saved Jordan again when he denied Al Anaze, but seconds later Abdulelahl Al Amri headed in from close range to give Saudi Arabia hope in the dying minutes.
With the game deep into injury time, Saudi Arabia’s dreams of securing something from the game became a reality as Al Anaze struck from the spot after Jaber Asiri had been upended in the penalty area to give his team a dramatic draw.
Iain Brunskill - Jordan head coach
"Obviously we’re disappointed with the final result. We were 2-0 in the lead, but we were slightly fortunate on the balance of the game. But when you’re leading by two goals with 10 minutes to go, it feels like a defeat. On another day we could have converted some chances towards the end but it was a little bit hurried. We’re disappointed. We know we can play a lot better so that’s something positive for the next game."
Daniel Teglio - Saudi Arabia head coach
"It was a very emotional game and good to watch, with the two teams trying throughout the game to be offensive and to win. I think it was a little harsh on us that they led 2-0 until so late in the game, but I liked that the players played for the whole game to try to get the draw. We controlled the game very well and we were able to get a result that was fair to us."