Japan see off Saudi Arabia

Tue 15 Nov 2016, 21:31:26
Saudi Arabia retained top spot in Group B despite suffering a 2-1 loss to Japan in their World Cup qualifying clash at the Saitama Stadium on Tuesday.
Hiroshi Kiyotake opened the scoring for the Blue Samurai with a 45th minute penalty before Genki Haraguchi added a second with 10 minutes of the match remaining.

Omar Hawsawi pulled one back for the Green Falcons in stoppage time at the end of the match before being dismissed for picking up two yellow cards.

Full report

With a vocal support cheering them on, Japan started well with although Yuya Osako's early shot was easily saved by goalkeeper Mohammed Al Owais.

Yuya Kubo then dallied on the ball inside the box, allowing the Saudi Arabia defence to clear.

Kubo came closer with a shot from the edge of the box that was deflected wide by Osama Hawsawi with the visitors offering very little going forward,.

And Japan took a deserved lead

when Kiyotake slotted home from the penalty mark just ahead of the half-time break, sending the keeper the wrong way, after the referee had spotted a handball from Abdulmalek Al Khaibri.

Second half substitute Shinji Kagawa caused all sorts of problems for the Saudi Arabia defence with a floated corner midway through the second period that was just about cleared, before fellow substitute Keisuke Honda went close with a shot on the turn that the keeper managed to palm away.

But with the match winding down, Japan added a second through Haraguchi who sidefooted the ball home after a cross from the left was touched on by Kagawa.

There was drama in the dying second as Saudi Arabia pulled a goal back through Hawsawi who was then subsequently dismissed as he picked up a second yellow card of the match.

The result leaves Saudi Arabia top of the pile with 10 points from five games, with Japan a close second with only goal difference separating the two teams.
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