MD4 - Group D: Palestine 0-0 Saudi Arabia
West Bank: Palestine held three-time Asian champions Saudi Arabia to a goalless draw on Matchday Four of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Asian Qualifiers Group D on Tuesday.
Facing a Saudi side ranked 31 places above them in the latest FIFA rankings, 101th Palestine dominated from start to finish in front of a large home crowd, but ultimately could not convert their chances.
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Palestine had a golden chance to open the scoring inside 10 minutes after Mohammed Yameen recovered the ball and fed Nazmi Al Badawi in the middle of the pitch. The US-born midfielder released Saleh Chihadeh through on goal. Chihadeh went for power but goalkeeper Mohammed Al Owais was alert and punched away the effort.
The Saudis responded in the 14th minute as Abdullah Otayf supplied the ball out wide for his Al Hilal teammate Yasser Al Shahrani who squared for Yahya Al Shehri to control and fire from close range. Goalkeeper Rami Hamadeh rose to the occasion and made a quick reflex save to deny Al Shehri.
Palestine came close again halfway through the second period, and against it was Switzerland-based Chihadedh threatening the Saudi defence.
Islam Batran advanced through the middle and supplied a defence-splitting pass for Chihadeh inside the box. The 25-year-old turned and fired first time, but his strike went agonisingly close off the wrong side of the post.
With five minutes left on the clock, Mahmoud Abu Warda sent a diagonal long ball for fellow substitute Khaled Salem who outmuscled his marker, controlled inside the box with only the goalkeeper to beat, but his attempted lobbed finish missed the target, leaving him to rue the chance as Palestine settled for a stalemate.
The result means it is Uzbekistan who lead the group with six points from three games, while Saudi Arabia come second with five points. Palestine and Singapore have four points each.
Next up for Palestine is an away trip to face Yemen, while the Saudis travel to Tashkent for the clash with Uzbekistan.
Photos: Saudi Arabian Football Federation
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