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MD3 - Group D: Saudi Arabia 3-0 Singapore

Buraidah:  Youngster Abdullah Al Hamdan scored his first international goal as Saudi Arabia cruised past Singapore 3-0 on Matchday Three of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Asian Qualifiers Group D on Thursday.

It was top vs bottom going into the game as Saudi Arabia had drawn with Yemen 2-2 in their first game and sat at the foot of the group with a single point, while Singapore had also collected a point with the same score against Yemen, then beat Palestine 2-1 to top the group with four points.

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From the start, three-time Asian champions Saudi Arabia looked to register a big home win and came close in the 12th minute when skipper Yahya Al Shehri curled a free-kick from the edge of the penalty box past the wall, but his effort brushed the top of the net.

Lady luck was not on the hosts' side as they struck the woodwork on four occasions in the opening 45 minutes.

Hattan Baherbri was first to hit the upright with a curled effort in the 20th minute. Seven minutes later, Bahebri was again unlucky, hitting the post from an angle following a quick exchange of passes inside the Singapore area.

Abdulfattah Assiri finally broke the deadlock in the 28th minute. The winger supplied a through pass for Yasser Al Shahrani down the left and was at the receiving end of the full-back’s cross to sweep home the opener.

The hosts came close to doubling their lead before the break after they were awarded a penalty a minute before the halftime whistle, but Al Hamdan’s effort was brilliantly saved by Singapore goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud.

Al Hamdan’s persistence paid off and the 20-year-old made amends at the hour mark. The forward’s initial finish from Mohammed Al Burayk’s cross was saved by Mahbud but Al Hamdan was quick to the rebound to slot home, breaking his international duck.

Confidence grew with the second goal and soon after the Saudis were breaking free again. A defence-splitting pass from Bahebri was collected by Al Hamdan and squared across the mouth of goal for Assiri who was left with a simple tap in to make it 3-0.

The result sees Saudi Arabia jet to the top of the group standings with four points, level with second-placed Singapore.

The Green Falcons travel to Palestine for their next game on Tuesday, while Singapore return home to host Uzbekistan.