Asian Cup 2019: Class of Saudi Arabia star Salem Al Dawsari finally shows to make him Hero of the Day

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The goals flew in for Saudi Arabia as they opened their Asian Cup campaign with a 4-0 thumping of 10-man North Korea – and rising Al Hilal star Salem Al Dawsari got the pick of them.

At Dubai’s Rashid Stadium, the ex-Villarreal loanee eased his way into the competition. It was one shot and one goal from him, but what a goal.

A feint inside earned space and then a precise finish found the bottom corner. Here, we review the 27-year-old’s display.

STATISTICS

01 – attempts

02 – free-kicks won

57.1% – duel success

79 – total passes

92.4% – pass accuracy

30-SECOND REPORT

After their exploits in making it to the World Cup and then defeating Egypt, thanks to Al Dawsari’s strike, much was expected of the Green Falcons.

They took flight on Tuesday evening at Rashid Stadium against opponents of whom so little was known pre-match.

Winger Hattan Bahebri and centre-back Mohammed Al Fatil struck, prior to Cagliari-owned Han Kwang-song’s second yellow. After the break, Al Dawsari and Al Muwallad completed the rout in Group E.

08 01 hero salem al dawsari

GOT RIGHT

A growing influence

With anchor man Salman Al Faraj out of the tournament through injury and Nawaf Al Abed so unfortunately sidelined throughout this golden period for the Saudis, a space has opened up for Al Dawsari to fill as his nation’s heartbeat.

Against North Korea, only three players made more passes than the new No10 and just two made more accurate forward passes. Impressive statistics for someone, ostensibly, stationed on the right wing.

GOT WRONG

A greater threat

Al Dawsari appeared to be a picture of efficiency against the men from the Hermit kingdom.

He attempted only one shot throughout the entire match, and it went in. Impressive stuff.

This picture becomes less rosy when you see that Al Dawsari led the way for the Saudis with 17 lost balls.

The onus on him was to make things happen against a stacked defence. But this job must be pulled off with greater care.

KEY MOMENT

70th min GOAL: The Saudis bring the ball forward, with haste, from the back. It’s eventually worked inside for the loitering Al Dawsari. Ri Un-chol is made to look a fool with a cut back inside the penalty box and then the ball bobbles into the far corner, with the minimum of fuss.

VERDICT: 7/10

This was surely an exhibition of a player working his way into the competition.

Al Dawsari oozes class and confidence. The fact he lost the ball so many times can be seen as a player given licence to try things by head coach Juan Antonio Pizzi.

More time on the pitch in the UAE should generate grander performances as the competition goes. Al Dawsari will hope his team reside across the border for the duration.

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Asian Cup 2019: Han Kwang-song has horror show in Saudi Arabia v North Korea report card

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Saudi Arabia made a comfortable start at the 2019 Asian Cup as they shared out the goals in a 4-0 defeat of 10-man North Korea.

The lively Hattan Bahebri expertly curled in a 28th-minute opener against solid opponents at Rashid Stadium, stacked deep in a 5-4-1 formation. Perugia loanee Han Kwang-song then came to the fore, missing a sitter before the excellent Mohammed Al Fatil flicked in the second. Han was then sent off for a second yellow card in eight, wild, minutes.

In the second half, Salem Al Dawsari showcased his talents to skip inside and deftly find the bottom corner before Fahad Al Muwallad made up for several misses with a late lashed finish.

Here is the report card from this Group E clash:

GOOD

Filling in for Al Faraj

Consternation and worry filled the Saudi Arabia ranks when inspirational Al Hilal midfielder Salman Al Faraj failed to prove his fitness on the eve of the tournament.

He was one of few to impress at the World Cup. But there is still promise without him in the near-month – they hope – ahead.

In Al Faraj’s absence, club-mate Abdullah Otayf was a picture of efficiency and Al Ahli Jeddah’s Housain Al Mogahwi injected experience.

Digging in

Mining positives is difficult for North Korea.

From the moment Han saw red, a 4-0 defeat was probably the best they could have hoped for. For comparison, they went down to this scoreline against much-weaker Bahrain in last week’s final warm-up.

They must now hope to keep 11 men and frustrate Qatar on Sunday.

BAD

Al Muwallad’s big misses

Don’t let Al Muwallad’s last-gasp goal cover up a glaring weakness.

The Al Ittihad superstar is a superb winger. But he showed, largely, at the World Cup and on Tuesday night, that he’s a genuinely false No9.

In the first half, he shot straight at Ri Myong-guk and he’ll struggle to explain his errant curled effort after the break.

With the inexperienced Mohammed Al-Saiari the only true striker in the squad, the Green Falcons could struggle for goals in the knockouts.

Han’s horror show

A year ago, Han was being linked to perennial Serie A champions Juventus.

Fast forward to the present and he had a horror show.

His free header at 1-0 was appalling, his second booking less than 10 minutes later unforgivable as he went through Al Mogahwi.

KEY MOMENTS

28 mins GOAL: Saudi go wide and Bahebri breaks international duck in style with supreme curled effort.

35th min CHANCE: Han has Saudi goal at his mercy, but heads over.

37th min GOAL: Al Fatil’s back-heeled volley sends a free-kick into the bottom corner.

44th min RED CARD: Han goes through back of Al Mogahwi and it’s an early bath.

70th min GOAL: Al Dawsari – who else? – skips through and fires in.

87th min GOAL: Al Muwallad, belatedly, thumps home from close range.

TACTICAL TALKING POINT

Al Shehri’s snub

Al Nassr winger Yahya Al Shehri’s crown as the golden boy of Saudi football has long slipped.

Last season’s – unused – Leganes loanee didn’t even come off the bench in Dubai.

With only two goals and one assist in 13 Saudi Professional League games this term, Pizzi’s trust in the likes of Bahebri and Abdulaziz Al Bishi was correct – and justified.

VERDICT

Saudi Arabia – A

The Saudis showed patience against deep-lying opponents, then shared four goals between them.

A strong start ahead of Saturday’s Lebanon clash.

North Korea – C

North Korea were broken by their own indiscipline and limitations.

It looks like it’s going to be a short stay in Dubai.

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Asian Cup 2019: Hattan Bahebri and Abdullah Otayf excel in Saudi Arabia ratings

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Saudi Arabia made a comfortable start at the 2019 Asian Cup as they shared out the goals in a 4-0 defeat of 10-man North Korea.

The lively Hattan Bahebri expertly curled in a 28th-minute opener against solid opponents at Rashid Stadium, stacked deep in a 5-4-1 formation. Perugia loanee Han Kwang-song then came to the fore, missing a sitter before the excellent Mohammed Al Fatil flicked in the second. Han was then sent off for a second yellow card in eight, wild, minutes.

In the second half, Salem Al Dawsari showcased his talents to skip inside and deftly find the bottom corner before Fahad Al Muwallad made up for several misses with a late lashed finish.

Here is the report card from this Group E clash:

SAUDI ARABIA (4-1-4-1)

Mohammed Al Owais – 6: Watching brief for the Al Ahli Jeddah shot stopper. Was thankful to see Han’s free header go over, mind.

Mohammed Al Breik – 6: Kept it simple and, largely, left the adventurous stuff to roaming Al Hilal team-mate Al Shahrani.

Mohammed Al Fatil – 7: Produced a back-heeled volley that Saudi legend Sami Al Jaber would have been proud of.

Ali Al Bulaihi – 6: Precious little defending to do as Korea sat back, then went down to 10 men. Easy night’s work.

Yasser Al Shahrani – 7: Arguably Asia’s finest full-back eased his way into the competition. Supported Al Dawsari superbly.

Abdullah Otayf – 7: With Al Faraj injured, this was a big test for the accurate anchor man. Sterner ones, however, are to come.

Hattan Bahebri – 7: What a way to get your first international goal. Delightful curled shot broke deadlock. Lively presence.

Abdulaziz Al Bishi – 7: The Al Faisaly midfielder looks so comfortable at this level. Had a strong hand in opener.

Housain Al Mogahwi – 6: Floated in free-kick that Al Fatil impudently converted. Recycled ball exceedingly well against 10 men.

Salem Al Dawsari – 7: Quiet first half for Hilal flyer was forgotten when his dancing feet earned space and he curled home third. A fine player.

Fahad Al Muwallad – 6: Makeshift centre forward fluffed big chances in both halves, before belatedly smashing in from close range.

SUBSTITUTES

Abdulrahman Ghareeb – 6: Didn’t have a great deal to do in his 20 minutes on the pitch.

Mohammed Al Saiari – N/A: Squad’s only recognised No9 didn’t get any chances.

Hamdan Al Shamrani – N/A: Given a few minutes at the death.

NORTH KOREA (5-4-1)

Ri Myong-guk – 7: The World Cup 2010 veteran and Chollima skipper produced string of fine saves. Highlight came versus Al Muwallad.

Ri Il-jin – 5: The right wing-back was given a real test by the Al Mogahwi/Al Dawsari partnership on his flank.

Kim Song-gi – 6: The tall Japan-based centre-back held nothing back. Tried his best to hold the fort against Saudis.

Jang Kuk-chol – 6: Another one to do well in the face of adversity. Helped by sheer weight of men around him.

An Song-il – 5: Tried to keep Al Muwallad quiet. When ball was in the air, did well. Taken off at half-time.

Kim Chol-bom – 5: Saudis were forced to find space out wide. This left Kim exposed, at times. Tried to race forward.

Han Kwang-song – 2: In nine-minute spell, Perugia loanee missed a sitter, Saudis made it 2-0 and was dismissed.

Ri Yong-jik – 5: The Tokyo Verdy defensive midfielder was comprehensively overshadowed by Otayf. Looked lost, at times.

Ri Un-chol – 5: Didn’t provide enough of an attacking threat, or ample cover to his side when they became stretched at 10 men.

Jong Il-gwan – 6: The FC Luzern winger showed a few deft touches in the first half. Team-mates couldn’t make most of them.

Pak Kwang-ryong – 5: A difficult night for the St Polten centre forward. Ran down several blind alleys and always well marked.

SUBSTITUTES

Kim Kyong-Hun – 6: Tried, in vain, to keep his side in the contest when brought on at interval.

Ri Chang-Ho – 6: Couldn’t inject life into a listless, numerically disadvantaged side.

Rim Kwang-hyok – N/A: Only given injury time.

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