Saudi Arabia eliminates North Korea 4-1 at Asia Cup

Al-Sahlawi scored a brace of second-half goals after Hazazi netted before the break, and Al-Abid completed the scoring

Published: Updated:

Saudi Arabia's strikers feasted on a chaotic North Korea defence to fire the Green Falcons to a 4-1 victory and stave off elimination from the Asian Cup on Wednesday.

Mohammed Al-Sahlawi scored a brace of second-half goals after Naif Hazazi netted before the break, and Nawaf Al-Abid completed the scoring in the 77th minute after swooping on his own botched penalty kick to fire home his side's fourth.

Ryang Yong Gi ended North Korea's 23-year goal drought at the tournament with a 11th minute strike at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium but his team crumbled after halftime as the Saudi forwards attacked in waves.

With both teams desperate after having lost Group B openers, the match was played at a frenetic pace on a windy, overcast day, with North Korea midfielder Jong Il Gwan receiving a yellow card after 15 seconds for a heavy challenge on Omar Howsawi.

Ryang made the most of his chance early, swooping into the area to hammer his shot into the net after keeper Waleed Abdullah could only parry forwards a searing long-range effort from striker Pak Kwak Ryong.

Saudi Arabia drifted until the 37th minute, when a midfield interception and a chain of slick passes ended with Hazazi firing the ball low through North Korea keeper Ri Myong Guk's legs, sparking the Green Falcons into life after they were listless for most of the half.

Al-Sahlawi scored his brace in a three-minute burst, latching on to a cut-back pass from Abdulla Aldossary in the 52nd minute and capitalising on a farcical defensive error moments later.

Jang Kuk Chol put a clearing kick straight into the forward's chest and he duly thumped the ball into an unguarded goal.

Al-Sahlawi missed out on a hat-trick 17 minutes later when he slid the ball left of the post when clean through on goal, but Salem Aldawsari set up the fourth with fine work in the area.

After dribbling into the box, the midfielder's chipped shot hit the crossbar and the rebound struck Ri Yong Jik's raised arm on the goal-line.

Ri was red-carded and although Al-Abid missed the spot kick, he pounced on the rebound to seal the contest for the ecstatic Saudis.