Underdogs Yemen have come crashing down to earth after suffering a 1-0 loss to hosts Saudi Arabia, a result which saw the Green Falcons progress to the semi finals of the regional tournament.
It was Yemen who had the first real chance of the game when Ahmed Alos was set free down the right, slipping the ball into the box for Abdul Al-Matari who could only hit the side netting.
Just a minute later at the other end of the field Mohammed Ayash kept the scores deadlocked with a fine double save to deny, at first, Nasser Al-Shamrani and then Salem Al-Dawsari on the follow up.
It was the tricky Al-Dawsari just moments later that looked like he might break the deadlock after a mazy run left the Yemeni defence bamboozled, however he hooked his left-footed shot over the bar.
The breakthrough would come just two minutes later, however, after Hamada Al-Zubairi’s glancing header from the corner found its way to the edge of the box where Al-Abid lashed home a thunderbolt into the top corner to give Saudi Arabia a deserved lead.
Yemen had a good chance to draw level early in the second half when Alos, who was a threat on the flanks all night, got the better of his defender on the touchline before dribbling into the box, cutting around his defender, and firing at Waleed Abdullah. His shot, lacked power, however, and was easily saved by Abdullah.
Al-Abid had a chance to secure a brace after a brilliant run into the box, but his final touch took him to close to the byline, cutting his angle and making it easy for Ayash to make the save.
The final chance of the match fell to Taisir Al-Jassim after the ball fortuitously fell his way, allowing him to run into free space in the box, yet his powerful shot was saved at full stretch by Ayash to ensure it finished 1-0.
The other Group A match saw Qatar scrape through with a 0-0 draw against a Bahrain side in disarray after sacking their coach just two days ago.
While Qatar did find the back of the net in the first half, with Karim Boudiaf tapping in Hassan Khalid’s cross, it was ruled offside.
Both teams had their chances to take the lead and Bahrain had an appeal for a penalty turned down, but neither side could find the cutting edge needed.
Qatar march on, although with only one goal from three games it is clear they are missing Sebastian Soria and Khalfan Ibrahim. Bahrain, on the other hand, can now focus on preparations for the AFC Asian Cup under the guidance of a new coach.