Riyadh: Nawaf Al Abid’s lone strike handed Gulf Cup hosts Saudi Arabia a narrow 1-0 win over Yemen in Group A’s final round of fixtures at the King Fahd International Stadium on Wednesday.
The result sees the Green Falcons qualify top of their group on seven points, four points clear of second-placed Qatar, who recorded their third successive point in a goalless draw with Bahrain in a match held simultaneously the Prince Faisal Bin Fahd Stadium.
Ahmad Alos burst down the right and crossed to Abdul Wasa Al Matari who hit the side netting for Yemen after 20 minutes.
Yemen’s keeper Mohammad Ayash then denied Nasser Al Shamrani and Nawaf Al Abid in two quick attempts as Saudi countered.
The Green Falcons continued to push as Salem Al Dawsari went on a mazy run past Yemen’s defence only to shoot narrowly wide.
The hosts’ efforts eventually paid off before the half hour, when Al Abid struck the ball into the top left of the net from Taisir Al Jassim’s corner.
Ayash then kept out Omar Hawsawi’s low header from a free kick as the Saudis looked to build on their lead before the break.
Yemen’s Alos attempted another run down the flank after the interval but his enthusiasm petered out in front of goal and he struck straight at the keeper.
Al Jassim then struck over the bar and forced a save from Ayash as the time trickled down, before in stoppage time Hawsawi headed Al Jassim’s corner straight at the Yemen keeper, as Saudi rallied for a late encore.