Saudi Arabia advances to Asian Cup knockouts

January 22, 2024 5:15 am

[Source: Reuters]

Saudi Arabia qualified for the Asian Cup knockout stage after they beat Kyrgyzstan 2-0 in a one-sided Asian Cup group game on Sunday at the Ahmed bin Ali Stadium where two Kyrgyz players were sent off for reckless fouls.

The result moved Saudi Arabia to six points at the top of Group F while Thailand are two points behind in second after they drew 0-0 with Oman (one point) earlier on Sunday. Kyrgyzstan are bottom after l

Kyrgyzstan had a nightmare start to the game when Aizar Akmatov saw red for a high boot on Sami Al-Naji. The Kyrgyz defender was initially cautioned but received a straight red after VAR intervened and the referee watched the replay.

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Saudi Arabia took time to make their possession and man advantage count but after several opportunities to open the scoring, they finally made the breakthrough in the 35th minute when Mohamed Kanno turned in a cross at the far post.

Kyrgyzstan’s night went from bad to worse when Kimi Merk was sent off in the 52nd minute for a reckless challenge on Hassan Al-Tambakti where he caught the defender on the ankle, with VAR intervening again after the midfielder was only cautioned.

Kyrgyzstan went into damage control and attempted to thwart wave after wave of Saudi attacks, but Faisal Al-Ghamdi doubled their lead with a long-range strike that slipped through the gloves of goalkeeper Erzhan Tokotayev in the 84th minute.