Al-Shehri stars again as Saudi Arabia prove too good for Jordan
Saleh Al-Shehri starred for the second time in five days as Saudi Arabia won 2-0 in Jordan on Tuesday to maintain their perfect start to qualification for the 2026 World Cup.
The win leaves Roberto Mancini’s side in control of Group G with six points from two matches.
With Tajikistan moving into second place with a 6-1 win over bottom team Pakistan earlier in the day, the Green Falcons are five points clear of Jordan, who drew their opening game, in third. The top two from each of the nine groups advance into the final group stage.
The trip to Amman looked to be the toughest game in the round for the three-time Asian champions but it did not take long for Saudi to get the opening goal, just eight minutes in fact.
Abbas Al-Hassan whipped in a free-kick from just outside the penalty area and, using the pace on the delivery, Al-Shehri nodded home from close range.
Mancini had raised eyebrows by not selecting Al-Ahli striker Firas Al-Buraikan, but the man from Al-Hilal underlined there is currently no debate as to who is the more in-form player.
Jordan perhaps should have equalized seven minutes later. Ali Olwan caught the defense napping as he slipped the ball through to Mousa Tamari, but the French-based forward’s shot from the right side of the area was too close to Mohammed Al-Owais who saved smartly with his feet.
It signaled the start of Jordanian pressure and there were loud calls for a penalty after 20 minutes after a fierce shot from Nizar Al-Rashdan was blocked by Awn Al-Saluli. The majority of fans in the Amman International Stadium thought the Al-Taawoun defender had stopped the ball with his hand but no penalty was given.
Saudi Arabia extended their lead on the half hour following a well-worked move.