Saudi Arabia U23 national team advances to the final after defeating Australia U23 national team with a score of 2-0 in the AFC U23 Asian Cup 2022 semi-finals at the Pakhtakor Stadium, Tashkent.
Both teams came into the tie determined to advance to the final, with Australia producing their best in 2020 with a third place finish, while Saudi Arabia were runners-up in 2013 and 2020.
Saudi Arabia almost caught the Olyroos off guard in the first minute when Firas Al Brikan set up Ibrahim Mahnashi nicely at the top of the box, only for the Al Ettifaq defender to send his effort over the bar.
Australia were happy to soak up the pressure and had their first look at goal in the ninth minute when Alou Kuol did well to find space before setting up Ramy Najjarine, who failed to find the target from inside the six-yard-box.
Trever Morgan’s side continued to toil in front of the Saudi Arabia goalmouth with Kusini Yengi seeing his effort blocked in the 11th minute, while Lachlan Brook couldn’t angle his header on target off a corner moments later.
Despite defending deep, Saudi Arabia pounced on a chance to take the lead in the 20th minute when Al Brikan surged up the left flank before cutting back into the six-yard-box for an advancing Hussain Al Eisa to strike the ball into the top left corner.
Australia looked to respond and had their best chance at the half-hour mark but captain Tyrese Francois saw his effort from just outside the area denied by the woodwork.
The Olyroos suffered another setback in the 39th minute when Jay Rich-Baghuelou was sent off for a clumsy challenge on Yahya, as Saudi Arabia took a 1-0 lead going into the break.
Despite their numerical advantage, Saudi Arabia wasted several clear-cut chances to double their lead in the second half, first with Saud Abdulhamid missing with a header in the 63rd minute, before Hamed Al Ghamdi skied his long-range effort.
Australia defended in numbers but was unable to deny Saudi Arabia their second goal with Al Brikan turning provider again in the 72nd minute when he burst into the six-yard-box before cutting back to Yahya to score with a powerful shot past Australia keeper Joe Gauci.
Australia tried their best to fight their way back into the game but fell short in the end with Najjarine missing a penalty in the second minute of added time while at the other end, Abdullah Radif also failed to convert from the spot as the match saw some late drama but it didn’t matter for Saudi Arabia as they moved closer to lifting the title for the first time.
Credit Photo : AFC