Saudi Arabia are out of the 2018 World Cup but they put in a much improved showing as they were downed 1-0 by Uruguay who booked their place in the knockout stages of with a stoic and workmanlike performance.
Luis Suarez, so ineffective as La Celeste scraped a late 1-0 win in their opener against Egypt, leapt into life at the Rostov Arena, converting Carlos Sanchez’s first-half corner into an empty net after Mohammed Al Owais came for the cross through a crowd of bodies and soon regretted his decision.
Much like in their opening game it was a tense affair against a vastly improved Saudi side, who huffed and puffed but simply didn’t have the quality required to equalise and keep their hopes of progression alive.
Here, we rate the Saudi players:
SAUDI ARABIA (4-2-3-1)
Mohammed Al Owais – 5:
Brought in after Abdullah Al Mayouf shipped five in the Russia rout, but came through a sea of bodies and
Mohammed Al Breik – 7:
Had his hands full with vivacious veteran Cristian Rodriguez coming at him relentlessly. Completed 85.5 per cent of his 60 passes.
Osama Hawsawi – 7:
A far more solid showing from the one-time Anderlecht man. Superb alongside the all-action Al Bulayhi.
Ali Al Bulayhi – 7:
Great early block from Suarez and a terrific tackle on the same player close to half-time was sublimely timed. Injected much needed energy into his side.
Yasser Al Shahrani – 8:
This is what we’re used to seeing from the flying full-back, the Al Hilal man haring down the wing and swinging in inviting crosses.
Taisir Al Jassim – 6:
Veteran set the tone for his side, but sadly had to depart with an injury.
Abdullah Otayf – 7:
A rock in the heart of the Saudi midfield, with four tackles and three interceptions, as well as completing a fine 91.2 per cent of his 90 passes – more than any player on the field.
Hattan Bahebri – 6:
Squandered a presentable opening from Al Shahrani’s fine cross, stabbing over after stealing in. Otherwise a solid showing.
Salman Al Faraj – 8:
Buzzed around the Uruguay half looking for any hole to exploit. Probed and prodded and Uruguay always had to be alert with him on the ball. Completed 79 passes (second among Saudis), including three key passes.
Salem Al Dawsari – 6:
Two key passes from another Hilal man, just wasn’t able to find the killer one to unlock Uruguay’s defence.
Fahad Al Muwallad – 7:
Mobile and menacing – two things the aging Mohammad Al Sahlawi certainly wasn’t against Russia. Worked tirelessly across the front line
Housain Al Mogahwi – 7:
Came in for the injured Al Jassim and rallied the troops, whose heads never dropped.
Mohamed Kanno – 5:
One shot on target after entering the fray, but did precious little else.
Mohammad Al Sahlawi N/A:
Introduced late on but the aging striker couldn’t affect proceedings.