Saudi Arabia let slip a 1-0 lead to draw 1-1 with Qatar in the opening match of the Gulf Cup overnight.
In a match that pitted two of the tournament favourites against each other, Qatar started brightly but couldn’t make the most of their bright start.
Saudi Arabia made them pay 10 minutes before half time when a well worked play saw dangerous striker Nasser Al-Shamrani find space in the box, cutting it back for Fahd Al-Muwallad to bundle home to the delight of the crowd inside Riyadh’s King Fahd Stadium.
The hosts’ 1-0 half time lead didn’t last long after the second half began, with poor defending from a corner allowing Ibrahim Majid to head in at the back post.
The Saudi’s will feel hard done by having had a second goal ruled out just moments earlier after the referee adjudged Al-Muwallad to have fouled the Qatari defender in the process.
The equaliser gave extra life to the Qatari’s, but while they pressed hard for a winner, it wasn’t forthcoming despite two brilliant chances for Boualem Khoukhi, and both sides had to settle for the point, much to the disappointment of the local fans who made their feelings known at full time.
Speaking after the match Qatar coach Djamel Belmadi was frustrated his side couldn’t make their dominance count.
“It was difficult for us in the first half,” Belmadi said. “But we controlled the game better in the second half. Our players lacked experience and then I had to make some changes which helped.
“We were definitely far more organised in the second half. I am not satisfied but the 1-1 draw is not a bad result. We played well in front of a hostile crowd and a strong Saudi side [and] we will try to fix our problems in the next match.”
In the second match played last night Yemen and Bahrain played out a scoreless draw to see all four teams in Group A sit on one point after the opening match day.