Fulham 2-1 Saudi Arabia

Friday 5 September 2014 17:00

Two goals from Matt Smith earned Fulham a 2-1 win over Saudi Arabia in a behind-closed-doors friendly match at Motspur Park on Friday afternoon.

The striker opened the scoring in the 80-minute match with a stooping header, although the sides went in level at the break courtesy of Nassir Al-Shamrani’s penalty.

But Fulham controlled the second half and reclaimed their lead when Smith kept his composure after being found in space by substitute Emerson Hyndman.

Our newest recruit thought he’d claimed a hat-trick on his first appearance for the Club when he converted from Chris David’s free-kick, but the offside flag meant the goal was disallowed.

Saudi Arabia – who will face Australia at Craven Cottage on Monday – actually created the first opening of the game on nine minutes when Hassan Muath was sent into space only to skew his effort wide of the near post.

The home side responded five minutes later when, after Kay Voser had won a free-kick in a decent position, Ross McCormack bent a decent strike just wide.

The Scotsman had the ball in the net seconds later with a delightful chipped effort, but the flag had already gone up for offside.

He was involved again on 17 minutes when his whipped free-kick from the right found his former Leeds United strike partner, but Smith headed over.

You sensed a goal was coming, though, and it duly arrived two minutes later. McCormack slipped in the overlapping Voser down the right and his pinpoint cross was attacked by the diving head of Smith at the far post for 1-0.

Muath squandered a chance to level on 26 minutes after a neat one-two got him in behind the defence, but Gabor Kiraly smothered well to avert the danger.

The Saudis levelled the fixture on the half-hour mark when Taiseer Aljassam was clipped in the box by Dan Burn. Al-Shamrani sent Kiraly the wrong way with the subsequent penalty kick.

Good possession play between Smith and Burn at the other end on the left flank culminated in them working the ball inward to McCormack a minute before half-time, but his shot just missed the target from 20 yards.

Felix Magath made six changes at the interval and two of the new introductions had an instant impact when Hyndman split the defence to find David in the box. He squared to Smith but Saudi goalkeeper Fawz Al-Qarni read the danger well and smothered at his feet.

David tested Al-Qarni again two minutes later with a wicked free-kick that needed pushing around the post. The subsequent corner was then worked to Hyndman who bent in an effort from 25 yards that drew a sprawling save from Al-Qarni.

On 51 minutes Fulham were back in front. After the visitors failed to clear the ball following another Whites attack, Hyndman spotted Smith in space in the area and the big frontman took a touch before rifling into the back of the net.

Saudi Arabia should have levelled five minutes later when Mukhtar Fallatah rounded Kiraly but saw Shaun Hutchinson deflect his shot behind.

David found Thomas Eisfeld with a clever chipped ball on 63 minutes – the German skipped beyond two incoming challenges but his right-footed shot was well saved.

The Green Falcons then missed two good chances in as many minutes to equalise; firstly when Yasir Alshahrani got his header all wrong from close range, and then when Fallatah was denied by a strong Kiraly save from a tight angle.

Smith thought he’d secured the win and a hat-trick with three minutes remaining when he headed in David’s free-kick, only to be denied by the linesman’s flag.

It almost proved costly when Alshahrani found himself in space in the area on 79 minutes. Kiraly managed to block his shot but the follow-up fell to Alshehri who would certainly have levelled the score had it not been for a brilliant block by Burn.

Fulham first half (4-2-3-1): Kiraly; Voser, Hutchinson, Burgess, Burn; Parker, Fazlic; Rodallega, Ruiz, McCormack; Smith

Fulham second half (4-4-1-1): Kiraly; Hoogland (Fotheringham 59), Hutchinson, Burn, Voser; Chihi, R Williams, Hyndman, Eisfeld; David; Smith