Yemen dominate Sri Lanka at World Cup Qualifiers
Yemen won by 3 goals
Yemen took a significant step towards the next round, defeating Sri Lanka 3-0 at Damac Club Stadium in the first leg of the Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 1 for the FIFA World Cup 2026 and AFC Asian Cup Saudi Arabia 2027 on Thursday.
Veteran Abdulwasea Al Matari produced the first scoring chance for his nation, rifling in a free-kick from 30 yards out, but the ball did not drop quick enough and ended up whizzing over the crossbar.
Sri Lankan goalkeeper Sujan Perera was nearly caught off-guard when Ahmed Al Sarori, dribbled down the right, beating his marker and crossing from the byline, with his delivery nearly finding its way toward the back of the net, but instead landing on the roof of the net.
Yemen finally took the lead in the 33rd minute in exceptional fashion as Ahmed Maher took matters into his own hands, dancing his way past three Sri Lankan defenders to find himself face-to-face with the goalkeeper and applying an intelligent finish with the outside of his left foot into the back of the net.
Sri Lanka looked to bounce back in the second half, taking the game to their opponents right from the restart. Shenal Sandesh had the ball in the back of the net following a corner, but the flag had already gone up indicating Adhavan Rajamohan’s cross had gone out of play while mid-air.
Nasser Al Gahwashi tried his luck from long range at the hour mark, but his drilled effort passed just inches wide. Minutes later, he replicated the same effort but this time was able to find the top corner, leaving goalkeeper Perera with no chance to save it and doubling Yemen’s lead in the 67th minute.
Just as he started the game with his side’s first shot, Al Matari wrapped it up in style, adding Yemen’s third from a spectacularly placed free-kick, curled past the Sri Lankan wall and into the top corner in added time to round off the scoring.
Substitute Omar Al Dahi could have made it four with the very last kick of the ball, blasting an effort from close range following a series of quick passes which allowed him to break inside the Sri Lankan box, but goalkeeper Perera was able to punch it away, limiting the damage to three goals at the final whistle.
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