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Late Saudi penalties catch Iraq napping in World Cup qualifier

Shah Alam (Malaysia) (AFP) – Nawaf Al Abed buried two penalties in the last nine minutes as Saudi Arabia came from a goal down to beat regional rivals Iraq 2-1 in World Cup qualifying on Tuesday.

War-torn Iraq, playing their home fixture in Malaysia’s Shah Alam, struck early through Mohannad Abdul-Raheem and  looked headed for victory as the clock ticked down.

But on 81 minutes, after Saad Natiq brought down Hassan Muath in the box, Abed drilled home a powerful equaliser from the spot.

And there was more to come after Abed won another penalty which he converted in the 87th minute to hand the Saudis their second win in two third-round matches so far.

It takes Abed’s tally to three late penalties in Saudi’s two games after he hit the 84th-minute winner from the spot in last week’s 1-0 victory over Thailand.

The result badly dents Iraq’s chances of winning one of the two automatic berths for Russia 2018 from the six-team Group B, after they lost last week’s opener 2-0 to Australia.

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