Saudi Arabia eliminates North Korea 4-1 at Asia Cup
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — With a small but vocal group chanting the name of Kim Jong Un during the match, North Korea was eliminated from the Asian Cup on Wednesday after losing to Saudi Arabia 4-1.
Mohammed Al Sahlawi scored two goals in two minutes for Saudi Arabia, while Naif Hazazi and Nawaf Al Abid added the others. Ryang Yong Gi had given the North Koreans the lead in the 11th minute.
“I heard in the second half quite a large crowd cheering our team in the stands,” North Korea coach Jo Tong Sop said. “They were calling the name of our marshal Kim Jong Un during the match. I’d like to say thank you for all the cheering.”
Saudi Arabia’s victory at Rectangular Stadium gave the team three points after two matches in Group B, while North Korea was eliminated after two straight losses. China leads the group with six points after beating Uzbekistan 2-1.
Ryang put North Korea ahead after pouncing on a failed clearance by Saudi Arabia goalkeeper Waleed Abdullah, scoring the country’s first Asian Cup goal since 1992.
Hazazi equalized in the 37th when he completed a sweeping passing play that confounded the North Korean defense. Three Saudi players were involved before Al Abid drew in the defense and deftly passed to Haziz, who scored from just outside the box.
Al Sahlawi put Saudi Arabia in front in the 52nd when he positioned himself inside the box to finish off a long pass from Abdulla Aldossary. Two minutes later, Al Sahlawi tapped the ball into the empty net to make it 3-1.
Ri Yong Jik was sent off in the 77th after his intentional handball saved an almost certain goal, and Al Abid scored off the rebound after his subsequent penalty kick hit both posts.
Al Sahlawi nearly completed a hat trick in the 72nd but he shot wide with only the goalkeeper to beat.
“I’m happy we won the game and also we had a good performance,” Saudi Arabia coach Cosmin Olaroiu said. “Now we have to forget it quickly to prepare for the next game against Uzbekistan.”
Saudi Arabia plays Uzbekistan in Melbourne on Sunday, while North Korea plays its final match of the tournament against China in Canberra.
“The result, as you all know, is not very happy for our team,” Sop said. “Anyway, I can do my best for a good preparation for the next match.”