BangladeshPost placeholder

Three-time champions Saudi Arabia recorded a comfortable 4-0 victory over DPR Korea as Juan Antonio Pizzi’s men opened their AFC Asian Cup 2019 campaign collecting all three points in the Group E encounter on Tuesday, Fox Sports Asia reports.
Hatten Bahebri found Saudi’s first breakthrough after 28 minutes before centre-back Mohammed Al-Fatil doubled their advantage from a free-kick before half-time. Captain Salem Al-Dawsri made it 3-0 after the break before Fahad Al-Muwallad hit the final nail on 10-man DPR Korea’s coffin three minutes before full time.
Underdogs North Korea began the game, much like how Palestine approached their game against Syria the other night, as they sat deep and looked to frustrate the favourites Saudi Arabia. And their plan seemed to be clicking, but only for the first half an hour or so of the game.
The Green Falcons were applying constant pressure on the DPR Korea defence from the word go and it looked like it was only a matter of minute before they finally unlocked the opposition defence. And so it proved when Saudi found their first opening in the 28th minute after passing on a couple of good opportunities already.
When the goal arrived, it was one for the highlights reel. Hattan Bahebri received the ball wide on the left wing and decided to dance into DPR Korea’s box. With a drop of his shoulder taking a couple of North Korean defenders out of the game, the Al-Shabab winger fired a stinging shot leaving the goalkeeper Ri Myong-guk with no chance.
The Chollima, though, weren’t without chances. One such gilt-edged opportunity fell to their young sensation Han Kwang-song, plying his trade in Italy, who headed a cross over the goal from point blank range in the 35th minute. However, that missed chance will soon come back to haunt them as Saudi went on and doubled their lead a few minutes later.
This time, the goal came from a free kick on the left-hand side of the pitch. Centre-back Al-Fatil, who had already missed a good chance to score off a corner kick when his header sailed wide, stepped up to take the set-piece for Juan Antonio Pizzi’s side.
Al-Fatil fired in a delivery with the hope that one of his teammates will turn it in towards the goal, but the shot went through a bunch of legs and also into the goal past a blindsided goalkeeper. It was 2-0 within 37 minutes and the game was already running away from the North Koreans.
That was pretty much confirmed seven minutes later when DPR Korea were reduced to 10 men. And it was none other than their star name Kwang-song, who his coach Kim Yong-jun hailed as the most important player in his squad, who receiving the marching orders for a silly foul from behind that earned him his second yellow of the night.
Saudi began the second half much like how they finished the first 45 and DPR Korea’s problems were compounded when centre-back Jang Kuk-chol had to be forced off the field due to an injury. Coach Kim had already seen his other centre-back An Song-il go down with a knock forcing a substitution at half-time.
North Korea’s Ri Yong-jik produced his team’s best effort on goal during the match in the 68th minute with an effort from the edge of the area. However, his well-struck shot was matches with an even better save by Saudi custodian Mohammed Al-Owais who was alert when his team wanted him.
Saudi found their third in the 70th minute via their captain Al-Dawsari who fired in past the keeper from inside the box. Soon, the score would be 4-0 as Al-Muwallaad, the winger who was playing as Saudi’s frontman and had spurned chances one after another throughout the match, finally put the ball in the back of the net in the 87th minute!