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UAE edge Saudi Arabia in crucial World Cup qualifier

Published: Updated:

The United Arab Emirates overcame Saudi Arabia 2-1 through spectacular long-range strike by former Asian player of the year Ahmed Khalil in a World Cup qualifier in Al Ain on Tuesday.

Khalil scored the winner in the 60th minute after Ali Mabkhout had cancelled out Nawaf Al Abed’s 20th minute penalty for Saudi Arabia to keep the UAE’s own slim chances of qualifying for Russia 2018 still intact.

Saudi Arabia remain in second place in group B of Asia’s qualifying tournament with 16 points, one fewer than leaders Japan and level with Australia. Japan and Australia meet at Saitama Stadium outside Tokyo on Thursday.

UAE KSA (AFP)
UAE KSA (AFP)

Saudi Arabia play Japan in their final qualifier and need a win to secure presence in Rusia 2018, while the UAE, which is on 13 points, play Iraq in the Jordanian capital Amman on September 5.

Al Abed put the Saudis in front from the penalty spot in the 20th minute after he had been hauled down by Mohammed Fawzi, but Mabkhout levelled the score less than a minute later with a fine effort on the turn.

Saudi Arabia’s Osama Hawsawi hit the crossbar shortly after half-time, only forKhalil to score the winner on the hour mark.

Mahmoud Khamis of the UAE was sent off for a second bookable offence in the dying seconds of the game but the home side held on to take all three points.