Saudi Arabia reached a narrow 1-0 win over Japan at the King Abdullah Sport City Stadium on Thursday to maintain their fantastic start to the Asian Qualifiers.
The host repeated their victory on the same ground after four years thanks to
’s fantastic goal in the 71st minute.
It was the Saudis' third consecutive win in the third and final round of the Asian qualifications in Group B, while
suffered their second setback after losing 1-0 to
earlier in the competition.
controlled possession from the start, but it was Japan who created the first real chance when
's attempt from more than 30 yards was turned away for a corner by Saudi goalkeeper
responded with a wonderful header from a cross from
, but it was saved by Japan goalkeeper
Al-Owais and Gonda continued to shine for their respective teams till
broke the deadlock with a smooth strike.
In the 64th minute, after replacing Saleh
, the 21-year-old striker took advantage of a misdirected back pass from
, moved several yards down the left side, and slid the ball through Gonda's legs.
's men fought all out for the rest of the game in search of an equalizer, but they were unable to create any significant opportunities in the final 20 minutes.
Saudi Arabia will next host
, while the Samurai Blue are left with a difficult task against
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