Beating Vietnam, Saudi Arabia inches closer to qualifying for World Cup 2022

Green Falcons top on Group B with 16 points, Socceroos second with 11 points

November 16, 2021

Saudi Gazette report

Saudi Arabia continued its victorious march to Qatar World Cup 2022, with sealing its fifth win in six matches by beating Vietnam 1-0 in the Group B of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifier at My Dinh National Stadium in Hanoi on Tuesday.

Also on Tuesday, the match between two other teams of Group B -Austria and China - ended in draw 1-1. This deals a further blow to Australia after the Green Falcons dampened the Socceroos’ much-anticipated homecoming last Thursday with a scoreless draw in a World Cup qualifying clash at CommBank stadium in Sydney.

With Tuesday’s match, the Green Falcons emerged topper of Group B with 16 points from six matches and Australia comes second with 11 points while Vietnam, which lost all the six matches, remains at the bottom of the group. With today’s matches, the much confident and buoyant Green Falcons’ Road Trip to Qatar World Cup 2022 has become much easier.

This is also the last game of 2021, with a couple of months’ break before the qualification action resumes in January. Staying on top of the group with Tuesday’s victory will be vital for the Kingdom to keep the pressure off when they face Australia and Japan next year.

Saudi Arabia maintained their upper hand all throughout the game but it missed a number of chances to score a goal. While the first Saudi opportunity came early for striker Saleh Al-Shehri, who missed a goal after receiving a cross from his colleague Muhammad Al-Buraik, to turn the ball with his head, but it went outside the post.

In just five minutes, Saudi goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Rubaie Al-Yami had to block two shots from set-pieces of Vietnam. In the 22nd minute, Quang Hai dribbled past a midfielder then let it fly with an ambitious effort that never looked likely to go in. Five minutes later, Tien Linh picked up a long pass again and he was once again offside. After half an hour into the game, Vietnam committed six fouls while Saudi Arabia had three.

The Saudi team continued its attack, and its striker Saleh Al-Shehri, scored the solitary goal of the match at the 34th minute, after turning his colleague Fahd Al-Muwallad’s cross with his head into the net. Vietnamese Keeper Bui Tan Truong tried to save the ball but it already went over the line.

Just two minutes into the second half, Al-Shehri almost scored again with a tap-in, but Vietnam’s keeper Truong was quick to the action and caught the ball cleanly. After that, Saudi Arabia increased pressure on Vietnam to increase their tally of goal.

In the 78th minute, Nguyen Thanh Chung was robbed of possession and Saudi Arabia netted again with a tap-in. However, after reviewing the situation on VAR, the referee called off the goal as Chung was fouled.

China deals a blow to Australia’s road to Qatar in 1-1 draw

SHARJAH - Australia’s road to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 has been dealt a blow after being held to a 1-1 draw by China at Sharjah Stadium on Tuesday evening.

In the 41st minute of the first half, Australia scored its goal that came from a header of Mitchell Duke from a cross from Martin Boyle. Duke’s powerful header looked to have the Socceroos on course for a crucial three points in their quest to qualify for a fifth consecutive World Cup.

Duke scored his seventh international goal as the Socceroos dominated the first half. But Graham Arnold’s side were made to pay for not taking their chances when China were awarded a contentious penalty midway through the second half, in the 66th minute of the game, to level the scores. After a lengthy VAR review, the referee adjudged a handball against James Jeggo in the box, with Wu Lei converting the penalty to goal.

After starting this phase of qualifying with three straight wins, the Socceroos have picked up two points from their last three matches to leave hopes of automatic qualification for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 in the balance. Eager to bounce back from last week’s goalless draw with Saudi Arabia, the Socceroos were quick to put pressure on China and created two excellent chances inside the first 11 minutes.

Australia had made a perfect start to the next step of World Cup qualifying, defeating China 3-0 at Qatar’s Khalifa International Stadium on Sep. 2. The Socceroos, whose 11-game winning streak was ended by Japan, are in second place in Group B, five points behind Saudi Arabia, who have a perfect record of 16 points from six matches.

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