Saudi Arabia finally take off with win over Bahrain

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
Strike force: Nasser Al Shamrani (c) opened the scoring for Saudi Arabia

This was the result Gulf Cup host nation Saudi Arabia and their embattled coach Juan Ramon Lopez Caro required.

Memories of a disappoint­ing opening night draw with Qatar were temporarily forgotten as Nasser Al Shamrani and a pair of own goals from Bahrain led to a 3-0 Group A win, putting the Green Falcons within touching distance of the semi-finals.

Spaniard Lopez Caro has been harangued and questioned in recent days, this football-mad country demanding only the best from their national team.

“We were the better side and I like to congratulate all the players on their physical exertion,” Lopez Caro said after the win at the King Fahd International Stadium.

“I work for 25 years in the field and I’m not new to the job. I just want to make it clear that I never give up.

“For Qatar, we were trying to play in a vertical way, but today we played short balls. We danced to the right song.

“In the end, you must know that I do not hear criticism and focus only on my work.”

But sterner tests await if a first Khaleej title in 11 years is to be claimed on home soil in 11 days’ time.

AFC Player of the Year 2014 nom­inee Al Shamrani was all flicks and imagination, the striker’s ingenu­ity inspiring attacking midfielder Salem Al Dawsari.

They were at the heart of the opener. Al Shamrani’s incisive pass played Al Dawsari in, the latter being forced out wide by the onrushing ‘keeper before the ball eventually fell at the deadly strik­er’s feet to smash into an open goal.

A helping hand was then twice offered in a second half by the oppo­nents. Unsighted defender Abdulla Al Hazaa first deflected in a cross from right-back Saeed Al Mowal­lad, before a panicked Mohamed Husain fired in another centre.

A victory obtained with the mini­mum of fuss was then treated as such by the majority of supporters. The message was clear; this was just the beginning.

Elsewhere, minnows Yemen continue to be the surprise package at the Gulf Cup, their second-successive draw coming on Sunday against Qatar.

A first-ever Gulf Cup win remains elusive since 2003, though two points from two games is their best-ever haul. 

Most popular

Related Sections

Euro 2016: Holland thrash Latvia

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
Quick off the blocks: Robin Van Persie scored in the sixth minute for the Netherlands.

Holland thrashed Latvia 6-0 in Amsterdam as their Euro 2016 Group A qualifying campaign finally kicked into life.

Manager Guus Hiddink had threatened to walk away if the Oranje were been beaten again, having seen his side defeated in both away games so far against the Czech Republic and Iceland.

The Dutch, who reached the World Cup semi-finals, responded as Robin van Persie scored after just six minutes with his 48th international goal.

Rampant Bayern Munich winger Arjen Robben cracked home a second (35) and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (42) made it 3-0 before half-time.

PSV Eindhoven defender Jeffrey Bruma (78) scored his first international goal after a corner, with Robben (82) and Huntelaar (89) completing the rout of Marians Pahars' men.

The victory came at a cost, however, with Manchester United's defensive midfielder Daley Blind having limped off in the first half.

Cyprus recovered form in Group B, as they beat Andorra 5-0 in Nicosia.

Apoel winger George Efrem became the first Cypriot to score an international hat-trick when slotting home on the hour following a first-half brace (31  42) after Giorgos Merkis had set the hosts on their way with a ninth minute goal.

Dimitris Christofi (86) added a late fifth from the penalty spot as Cyprus recorded a second qualifying win in the group following successive defeats.

Wales remain top after battling to a goalless draw against Belgium in Brussels.

The early kick off in Group H saw Norway pick up a valuable 1-0 win away to Azerbaijan through a first-half header by Havard Nordtveit of Borussia Monchengladbach.

Gianluigi Buffon's first-half clanger helped Croatia claim a 1-1 draw away in Italy to leave the two sides tied at the top of Group H.

Antonio Candreva put the hosts after after 11 minutes, but their lead was short-lived though as Ivan Perisic's low shot squirmed underneath the body of Buffon to make it 1-1. 

Most popular

Related Sections

Peter Shilton doesn’t back Wayne Rooney to beat his 125 cap record

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
Special occasion: England captain Wayne Rooney won his 100th cap against Slovenia.

Peter Shilton thinks Wayne Rooney may struggle to beat his record of 125 England caps.

– Wayne Rooney at 100 caps: Best and worst England moments

– #Quiz360: WIN dinner for 2 at Channels

Rooney became England's ninth centurion on Saturday when he captained the Three Lions to a 3-1 win over Slovenia.

At 29-years-old Rooney is the youngest Englishman to reach the landmark and he is widely expected to surpass Shilton's all-time record in the next couple of seasons.

While Shilton is a big fan of Rooney, he suspects the striker's body may let him down over the coming years, and that may put his bid to surpass England's former goalkeeper in jeopardy.

"Wayne is a bulldog, he loves the game, he very rarely gets injured, he can take knocks and he could play for at least a couple of years, if not more," Shilton told BBC Radio 5 Live's Sportsweek programme.

"If it (the record) does go I will be the first to congratulate him, I still think it will be hard for him, but it's not impossible.

"When you get to the 29-30 mark mostly for strikers it's a little bit downhill, they can lose it fairly quickly. I remember Gary Lineker and Michael Owen seemed to go a little bit overnight. It's the hardest bit for him, he's not getting any younger, but if he does break it, it will be a pleasure to shake his hand and say well done."

Rooney led the England fight back on Saturday with a crucial penalty as Roy Hodgson's men came from behind to beat Slovenia in their Euro 2016 qualifier.

Until Jordan Henderson headed the ball into his own net, England had not conceded a goal since the World Cup, but Shilton has his reservations about Hodgson's options at the back.

"I'm a bit disturbed with us at the back, we need another two or three solid defenders," Shilton said.

Although Shilton is worried about England's defence, he insists Hodgson is the right man to lead the team forward and would not be averse to seeing the 67-year-old extend his current contract, which expires after Euro 2016.

"Overall I think we are on the right lines," said Shilton, whose England career spanned two decades.

"We need stability, he's English, he's got a lot of experience, and I wouldn't have any qualms about a new contract."

Most popular

Related Sections