Syria shock Saudi Arabia 2-1 in Asian Cup opener

Reuters, Sunday 9 Jan 2011

Two deflected strikes from midfielder Abdulrazak Al Husein handed Syria a surprise 2-1 win over Gulf giants Saudi Arabia in their Asian Cup Group B opener in Qatar on Sunday.

Syrian players celeparates their victory

The Syrians, competing in their first Asian Cup in 15 years, fully deserved the narrow victory as they defended tightly and caused the three-times Asian champions numerous problems down the flanks at Doha’s Al Rayyan Stadium.

Roared on by passionate support, the Syrians took the lead seven minutes before halftime when Al Husein prodded a half-volley from the edge of the area towards goal which was diverted past Saudi goalkeeper Waleed Abdullah by his fullback Abdullah Shuhail’s slight headed touch.


The Saudis improved after the break and drew level in the 59th minute when substitute Taiseer Al Jassam leapt into the penalty area to head Mosab Balhous’s punched clearance from a corner back past the Syrian goalkeeper.

The equaliser silenced the Syrian fans, who outnumbered and outsung their Saudi counterparts maintaining the hum of a traditional Arabian chant throughout the match.

The Syrians were cheering again just four minutes later, however, when Al Husein’s right footed shot from just inside the area took a wicked deflection past Abdullah to restore the advantage.

The Syrians survived some nervy moments in the last 10 minutes as they sunk deeper into their half with Naif Hazazi going very close with a header in the final minute.

The win was their first over the Saudis since 1976 and only their second in 24 attempts.

The result followed three-times Asian champions Japan grabbing a stoppage-time equaliser to draw 1-1 with Jordan in the other Group B match.

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