Mancini’s Saudi Arabia starting to find form with 2-0 cruise past Kyrgyz Republic

June 21 – Saudi Arabia had little difficulty dispatching a nine-man Kyrgyz Republic 2-0, securing their place in the last 16

Roberto Mancini’s team will rue a number of missed chances but ultimately will see the game as another step forward in their challenge after a shaky opening game.

The Saudis came into the second group on three points having been gifted their first win game with an Omani own goal in added time.

Kyrgyzstan had lost to Thailand by two goals scored in the first half but felt they had deserved more than the 2-0 showed after a second half in which they pinned the Thais back.

Against Saudi Arabia, Kyrgyzstan set out their intentions at the start, lining up with a bank of five and four to counter Roberto Mancini’s attacking 3-5-2 formation.

For Kyrgyzstan it was an over robust defensive formation that was soon undone. Nine minutes into the game they were reduced to 10 men with Aizar Akmatov receiving a red card for a reckless challenge on Sami Al Naji just outside the box.

The match was almost over before it had begun. With the Saudis using their width on both flanks to stretch the opposition they squandered a number of opportunities in front of expectant 39,557 fans.

On 35’ the Saudis had the lead. Mohamed Kanno hit a right footed shot from a Saud Abdulhamid cross into the bottom left corner. Assisted by Saud Abdulhamid with a cross.

Obdurate Kyrgyz defending kept the score at 1-0 at half time but the second half wasn’t going to see any change in Kyrgyz fortune.

Five minutes into the second half following more over zealous defending by Kimi Merk on Hassan Tambakti that saw the 19-year-old Kyrgyz midfielder given a red card. The Saudi defender limped off.

Down to nine men with 40 minutes left to play Kyrgyzstan kept up a brave defence with the Saudis not scoring a second until 85’ when substitute Faisal Al Ghamdi let loose a shot from the edge of the area that goalkeeper Erzhan Tokotaev could only punch it on its way into the net.

Saudi Arabia now face Thailand in the Education City Stadium on Thursday in a clash that will decide the group winner.

Kyrgyz Republic are down but not necessarily out if they can beat Oman and sneak into one of the best-ranked third place team slots. Neither of those outcomes look likely.

Contact the writer of this story at moc.l1713305078labto1713305078ofdlr1713305078owedi1713305078sni@n1713305078osloh1713305078cin.l1713305078uap1713305078


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