LONDON: Muhsen Al-Ghassani and Mohammed Al-Musallami were the heroes as they fired in late goals to give Oman a 3-1 win over Turkmenistan and secure progress to the second round in the process.
Oman coach Pim Verbeek said before the match that a 2-0 win would be enough for his team to advance, and his side started on the front foot as they went in search of the opening goal.
They were rewarded when they took the lead after 20 minutes thanks to a brilliant Ahmed Al-Mahaijri free-kick.
Turkmenistan hit back, however, and came close in the 31st minute when Murat Yakshiyev’s header was tipped over by goalkeeper Faiyz
The Central Asians were not to be denied and grabbed the equalizer in the 41st minute, Altymyrat Annadurdyyev unleashing a venomous shot into the top left corner.
After controlling the tempo of the game throughout, the Omanis continued to press Turkmenistan in the second half and had a number of opportunities to regain their lead — both Al-Musallami and Khalid Al-Hajri going close.
The Turkmen keeper Mamed was in inspired form and continued to keep Oman at bay. But with just six minutes left Al-Ghassani pounced from close range and Al-Musallami added a stoppage-time header to give Oman their first points of the tournament.
They now face the daunting task of playing tournament favorites Iran in the knockout stage on Sunday.