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Saudis cruise to easy victory against North Korea

photo by Agency photo

Mohammed Al Sahlawi of Saudi Arabia celebrates after scoring goal against North Korea on Tuesday.

By Agency
15th-Jan-2015       
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Saudi Arabia cruised to a 4-1 victory over ten man North Korea in Melbourne on Tuesday night to keep their hopes of qualification for the Asian Cup quarter finals alive in a match characterised by some slipshod defending, poor finishing but plenty of incident which thoroughly entertained a crowd of 12, 349 _ a strong attendance for two teams with small expatriate communities.
With both sides needing three points to keep themselves in the tournament this was always going to be either a cagey affair or a game in which both teams threw caution to the wind.
Any thought that either side might feel their way cautiously into the match were dispelled inside ten seconds when North Korean midfielder Jong Il-gwan went into Omani referee Abdullah Mohamed Al Hilali's notebook for a crude, scything challenge  on Saudi Arabian centre back Omar Howsawi.
And after that explosive start the first half barely paused for breath. Neither side looked the most accomplished, but they put on an entertaining show of attacking intent as they looked for the early goal that could break the game open.
Both sides struggled to retain possession and there were a lot of misplaced passes, but that merely ensured the end to end nature of the game.
The East Asians almost got their noses in front in the sixth minute when Sim Hyon-jin's shot was well saved by Saudi goalkeeper Waleed Abdullah.
From the resultant corner Abdullah again needed to react quickly to deny Ri Yong-jik, and at this state the North Koreans looked the team most likely.
And so it proved just a few minutes later when they took the lead, with their star player, Pak Kwang-ryong a key figure in the goal. His fierce drive was again well saved by Abdullah, but the ball bounced out to the following up Ryang Yong -gi, who gleefully smashed home his country's first goal of the tournament to put them in front.
The Saudis looked stunned but quickly regrouped and began to enjoy good possession and find spaces on the flanks as the Koreans defended narrowly.
Naif Hazazi had spurned a chance with a header just before the Koreans scored, but he went much closer shortly after with a good effort from a cross by Osama Hawsawi that flew just wide of Ri Myong-guk's post.

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