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Asia Cup: Syria shock Saudi Arabia 2-1

Al Hussain nets second goal in 63 minute and Syrians held on to pull off a great victory

Image Credit: Reuters
Saudi Arabia's Mohammad Al Shalhoub attempts an overhead kick as he is challenged by Syria's Belal Abduldaim, centre, during their 2011 Asian Cup Group B soccer match at Al Rayyan stadium in Doha on Sunday.

Doha: Syria’s 24-year-old midfielder Abdulrazak Al Hussein scored twice to lift his team to a superb 2-1 win over three-time winners Saudi Arabia in a Group B match of the Asian Cup on Sunday.

Al Hussein opened the scoring in the 38th minute and Saudi equalized in the 60th minute through substitute Taiseer Al Jassem.

Al Hussein netted his second in the 63 minute and the Syrians held on to pull off a great victory.

After the earlier game in this group, which saw the fancied Japan escape with a draw with an injury time goal against Jordan, Syria and Saudi Arabia had their fair share of support in the crowd.

It was Saudi Arabia, finalists in all five previous editions, which include three wins, who fired the first salvo in the 25th minute when Abdoh Autef sent Nassir AlShamrani with a through pass but the latter shot wide with only Mosab Balhous, the Syrian goalkeeper to beat.

It took half an hour before Syria had their first look at goal and Mohammad Al Zino saw his shot well saved by the Saudi custodian Waleed Abdullah.

With Saudi coach Jose Peseiro fielding star striker Yasser Qahtani, who was in doubt with an injury, the favourites kept pressing but were stunned by a Syrian strike. Al Hussein, who plays for former Asian Club champions Al Karamah saw his shot go off a Saudi defender and Syrian were 1-0 up in the 38th minute.

Stunned, Saudi took a long time to recover and when they did they equalized. In the 60th minute Syrian keeper Balhous punched into play a flagkick but Saudi substitute Taiseer Al Jassem headed it back into goal and the Saudi section of the crowd were up on their feet.

Hardly had their cheers died down when Syria grabbed the lead again. It was Al Hussein again and for the second time his shot deflected off a defender Peseiro’s boys were in trouble again.

With Balhous in tremendous form as he pulled of a couple of great saves including one off a Naif Hazazi header in the dying minutes to star in his team’s victory.