AFC Asian Cup: Saudi Arabia ease past DPR Korea, Iraq rally to edge Vietnam

ABU DHABI, Jan 9 (Xinhua) Saudi Arabia won their first AFC Asian Cup opener since 1996 with a 4-0 victory over DPR Korea in Group E at the Rashid Stadium in Dubai on Tuesday, and Iraq came from behind twice to edge Vietnam 3-2 in Group D with a stoppage time freekick.

Saudi Arabia’s four goals were scored by Hattan Bahebri, Mohammed Al Fattil, Salem Al Dosari and Fahd Al Moulid. 
DPR Korea’s midfielder Han Kwang-song was sent off after getting a second yellow card in the 44th minute.

The Green Hawks are counting on a new generation that qualified for the 2018 World Cup after a long absence and ended with a 2-1 win over Egypt after a disappointing start.

DPR Korea, which are competing in the Asian Cup for the fifth time, won the fourth place in 1980 and left early in 1992, 2011 and 2015.

After beating DPR Korea, Saudi Arabia topped the group standings, waiting for the Qatar-Lebanon game on Wednesday in Al Ain.

On Tuesday, Vietnam played Iraq bravely and took the lead twice. But a brilliant last minute free-kick from Adnan gave Iraq, champions in 2007, a dramatic 3-2 win at Zayed Sports City Stadium.
Iraq collected three points, but ranked second in Group D with a goal difference behind their Iranian counterparts, who beat Yemen 5-0 on Monday.

The AFC Asian Cup is the second oldest continental football championship after Copa America. The winning team qualifies for the FIFA Confederations Cup.

The 2019 AFC Asian Cup, the 17th edition of the tournament, is running from January 5 to February 1.

The United Arab Emirates was announced as the host for the tournament on March 9, 2015. It is the second time that the UAE hosts the tournament.
For the first time, the Asian Cup is contested by 24 teams instead of 16 teams.

Under the new format, the 24 finalists are playing a group stage consisting of six groups of four teams, followed by a knockout stage of 16 teams.

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