Saudi Arabia 0-2 Oman: match report
Oman started out the day in third place and staring an early exit from the Gulf Cup straight in the face. It was their opponents on Thursday afternoon that were top and in the driving seat. A win would have assured a place in the semi-final as group winners: anything, in fact, other than a loss would have booked them a place in the knockout stages.
They started better than Oman but Pim Verbeek's side slowly gained a foothold in the game. That was before Saudi, who travelled to the tournament with a young and inexperienced side, took complete control of the game and were unlucky not to score with a number of half-chances.
Oman survived and made it to the dressing room at the break without seeing their defence breached.
They figured if they were going to go out of the tournament, they might as well go out with a bang and they started the second 45 like a team with nothing to lose. It wasn't long before their daredevil approached started to breed belief.
Oman had the game by the scruff of the neck and they needed to score to seal their dominance. They did just that when Said Salim was sprung from the bench to tuck home a lovely cross from the right hand side on 58 minutes.
Their wrecklessness has been rewarded and they had their second when the super sub, Salim, buried a header beyond a stretching Assaf Al Qarni in Saudi Arabia's goal after 77 minutes.
In the other game, UAE and Kuwait played out a draw meaning Saudi were knocked out and have almost a complete six months to focus on the World Cup. Juan Antonio Pizzi, their coach who was watching on from home, sent a younger squad to assess where some of the fringe players were at and while some of them impressed, they failed to truly gel as a team in their three games.
Oman, on the other hand, saw the chance to drive forward and win the game, did just that and can look forward to a semi-final in a couple days time with their opponents to be decided on Friday as Group B winds down.
Saudi Arabia vs Oman live stream online: as it happened
Saudi Arabia vs Oman live stream online: preview
The Gulf Cup of Nations restarts after a day's rest on Thursday with Saudi Arabia playing Oman in Group A. As the group stages draw to a close and with Saudi Arabia eyeing the top spot, Oman could pip them at the post at Al Kuwait Sports Club Stadium in Kuwait City on Saturday afternoon. The game kicks off at 16:30 CEST with Kuwait, who are already eliminated, playing the UAE at the same time.
Saudi Arabia sit atop the group with four points after a victory over Kuwait in the opening game. Goals from Salman Al Moasher and Mukhtar Fallatah were enough to see them past the hosts despite a late scare.
They played the UAE in the second game but Krunoslav Jurcic, the manager stepping in for Juan Antonio Pizzi, was unable to find inspration off the bench as it ended 0-0.
Saudi were said to have brought a second-string team to the tournament with their eye on developing some of their younger talent and with the World Cup in Russia on the horizon. They have started well in the Gulf Cup, however, a competition they have won on three occasions in the past and most recently in 2004.
Oman are still in with a shout of finishing first or second, provided they can beat Saudi Arabia, and hope Kuwait can do them a favour by beating the UAE. The hosts are already knocked out having lost their two opening games.
One of the more recent winners of the Gulf Cup in 2009, Oman will be hoping the chips fall for them in the last two games of the group. Their three points came in a victory over Kuwait thanks to a penalty from Ahmed Kano but, worryingly, they have failed to score from open play and have just one goal in two games.
The good thing for their nerves is that the other game in the group is taking place at the same time meaning they need to take care of their side of the road and worry about the fall-out from the other game once the final whistles blows. We will, of course, keep you updated of the score in that game too, so you know what is happening as the semi-finals approach.
Saudi Arabia vs Oman: live stream betting
Saudi Arabia are currently favourites and you can get them at 6/4 if you fancy them to win it. Also, for both teams to score and for Saudi Arabia to win, it is a cool 6/1 if you bet now with Bet365.