Saudi Arabia left it late to overcome Singapore 3-0 thanks to goals from Salem Al-Dawsari, Fahd Al-Muwallad; and Saleh Al-Shehri inside the final 10 minutes in Group D of the Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022; and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 on Friday.
The win means Saudi Arabia go into their final game against Uzbekistan; with 17 points from an unbeaten run of seven matches; with a draw in four days' time enough to secure the top spot; while Singapore end the campaign on seven points.
The Green Falcons went into the game at King Saud University Stadium with the knowledge that a win would take them into the final matchday at the top of the group, while Singapore looked to end their campaign on a high.
A cagey first half saw chances few and far between with Al Dawsari testing the goalkeeper on several occasions; and the Saudis focusing their attacks down the left and center but to no avail.
Saudi Arabia thought they had finally opened the scoring in the 57th minute as Al-Dawsari slalomed; through the Singaporean defense after exchanging passes with Al-Muwallad, but was let down by his final touch; allowing goalkeeper Mohamad Izwan Mahbud to make the save.
Singapore came as close as possible to finding the back of the net in the 73rd minute; when Mohamed Al-Owais' attempt to save a long-range shot saw the ball spilled into the path of Shawal Anuar; who hammered the rebound against the post from close range as the Saudis breathed a sigh of relief.
With the game reaching the final 10 minutes, Saudi Arabia piled the pressure in pursuit of a win as Al-Shehri collected Salman Al-Faraj's pass on the edge of the box and curled an effort that passed agonizingly wide of the far post.
The Saudi goal finally arrived with six minutes to go as Al-Dawsari's persistence finally paid dividends. The Al Hilal winger pounced on the rebound after Al-Shehri's half-volleyed effort; denied by a combination of the Singaporean goalkeeper and the upright, only for Al Dawsari to slot home his nation's opener.
Buoyed by taking the lead, coach Herve Renard's men continued to press and Al-Muwallad stole the ball deep inside Singapore's half; leaving the defenders in his trail and rounding off the goalkeeper before passing the ball into the back of the net for Saudi Arabia's second of the night in the 86th minute.
As the game looked headed to an end, Saudi Arabia added a third in the fifth minute of added time. Substitute Saud Abdulhamid advanced down the right and crossed for Al-Shehri; who fired into the near corner to round off the scoring.