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Yemen exit Gulf Cup after losing to Saudi

Al Qahtani and Al Mullawahad strikes send Yemenis home

Manama: Hard-working Yemen crashed valiantly out of the Gulf Cup with a second consecutive 2-0 defeat in Group B against Saudi Arabia at Khalifa Stadium on Wednesday.

It follows an earlier 2-0 loss to Kuwait and means their last group match against Iraq on Saturday is now only for pride.

Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, re-awakened their hopes of qualification to the semi-finals with the win, following an opening 2-0 loss to Iraq. Their last game with Kuwait will decide who joins Iraq through to the semi-finals after the Lions of Mesopotamia recorded a 1-0 win over Kuwait earlier at Khalifa Stadium on Wednesday, booking themselves into the semis early.     

Yassir Al Qahtani put The Green Falcons in front on the half hour mark heading home Nasser Al Shamrani’s left cross with ease.

It had followed a frustrating half for the Saudis having missed the chance to open within five minutes through Al Qahtani, when Yemen keeper Saood Abdullah came out to collect the one-on-one.    

Saudi’s Osama Al Harbi had wasted a free header in front of goal from Salman Al Faraj’s free-kick and Al Shamrani himself headed over from Mansour Al Harbi’s cross.   

The Yemenis came close with a long shot from Khaled Baleid soon after, which Saudi keeper Waleed Abdullah fumbled. They also hit the crossbar 20 minutes in when Akram Al Wrafi cut left of the box and struck over the keeper’s reach.

Qahtani then tapped an Al Harbi long ball past the keeper and into the danger zone for Saudi, but in the follow-up Yemen defender Mohammad Omar edged Qahtani wide.   

The former Al Ain striker made up for his wastefulness in front of goal with a comfortable headed opener, before Fahad Al Muwallad struck wide from a poor clearance on the interval.

Saudi’s keeper plucked Al Wrafi’s cross away from the head of Kameel Mohammad on the hour as countering Yemen refused to give up hope and complacent Saudi continually lost possession in midfield.

But as much as the Yemenis tried going forward, their efforts amounted to little no matter hard their support wailed.

Taisir Al Jassim had a long shot stopped by the feet of Saood Abdullah ten minutes from time that Al Qahtani couldn’t control from the rebound as Saudi attempted a second.

Then their patience paid off five minutes from time when Al Mullawad struck a spilled shot from the advancing Yahia Al Shehri, which Yemem keeper Saood Abdullah should have brought under control.