Saudis ease past Palestine in 2022 World Cup qualifier

By: AFP      Published: 03:09 AM, 31 Mar, 2021
Saudis ease past Palestine in 2022 World Cup qualifier

Saudi Arabia eased past Palestine 5-0 on Tuesday to go top of Group D in the second round of Asian qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

The two sides had featured in a goalless draw when they clashed earlier in the competition at Al Ram in 2019, but the Asian giants proved far superior on their home turf with Saleh al-Shehri grabbing a second-half brace at the King Saud University Stadium in Riyadh.

Earlier, Yasser al-Shahrani found himself in a perfect position to score with a header to put the Saudis ahead in the 37th minute after Palestine goalkeeper Toufic Ali failed to collect a cross by Fahad al-Muwallad.

Al-Muwallad increased the lead six minutes later as the Palestinians started wilting under sustained pressure, the winger scoring on his second attempt after his initial effort after a back-heel pass by al-Shehri was deflected by goalkeeper Ali.

Al-Shehri then grabbed two goals within a space of seven minutes early in the second half, taking his personal tally to three in just his fourth cap with the senior team.

Saudi captain Salem al-Dawsari completed the rout with an 88th-minute penalty after Palestinian defender Ahmed Qatmish had handled the ball.

The Palestinians had shocked Uzbekistan 2-0 in their opening match and forced a draw against Saudi Arabia for their four points, but are now languishing at the bottom of the group after failing to build on their fine start.