MUSCAT: Saudi Arabia edged Oman 1-0 to stay four points clear on top in Group B of the AFC Asian Qualifiers – Road to Qatar, in Jeddah on Thursday night.
The all-important goal came through Firas al Brikan in the 48th minute.
With the defeat, Oman’s World Cup hopes diminished with seven points from as many matches. The Red Warriors are fourth in the table just ahead of China (four points) and last-placed Vietnam with no points.
The win cushioned Saudi Arabia’s place on top of Group B points table with 19 points from seven matches.
Japan are second with 15 points from seven matches and Australia are third with 14 points from seven matches.
Three more matches remain for the Red Warriors, who are seven points adrift of Australia, in the group.
The Sultanate’s next match will be against Australia in Muscat on February 1.
Other matches are against Vietnam on March 24 and China on March 29 respectively.
At the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium, Saudi Arabia dominated the ball for the first few minutes, but were not yet dangerous in the last part of the field.
Oman also tried to build attacks in the first half with none making an impact in the opponents’ penalty box.
BRIKAN HITS TARGET
Three minutes into the second-half, the moment awaited by the Saudi Arabian fans happened.
After a good move, Firas al Brikan latched on to a rebound from Oman goalkeeper Fayez al Rashdi to put the hosts in the lead.
The move started with Salem Al Dawsari’s long ball reaching Al Ghannam, who broke free from his marker and fired a stinging low shot towards Al Rashidi but the keeper spilled the ball into Al Brikan’s path, with the Al Fateh striker calmly prodding into the net from close range to make it 1-0.
In the added time, Khalid al Hajri's long-range shot was saved by the Saudi Arabian goalkeeper.
In the 75th minute, Khalid al Hajri's set-piece created panic in Saudi box but was headed off the line.
In the 71st minute, Said al Alawi got into good position inside the box, but his header went straight into the goalkeeper's hands.
A penalty was awarded to Saudi Arabia in the 41st minute but was cancelled over an offside call.
Oman’s close chances came when Khalid al Hajri header brushed past the crossbar from a Jameel al Yahmadi corner.
Al Alawi got another chance when he received a cross from Al Yahmadi, only to sky up his shot.