In a blow to their chances of automatic qualification, Saudi Arabia have gone down 2-1 to the United Arab Emirates in their penultimate World Cup qualification Group B match in Al Ain City overnight.
The Saudis started better and went ahead through Nawaf Al Abid's 20th minute penalty.
But the lead was short-lived with Ali Mabkhout squaring the ledger barely 60 seconds later, controlling brilliantly before thumping his fourth goal of the competition into the bottom corner.
With the scores still locked at 1-1 after an hour, Ahmed Khalil delighted the home crowd with a stunning strike from 20 yards to put UAE 2-1 ahead.
To make matters worse, Saudi midfielder Mahmoud Khamis Alhammadi was sent off in added time for a second yellow card.
The loss leaves Saudi Arabia on 16 points, level on points and goal difference with Australia but having played one more game.
It means the Caltex Socceroos can secure automatic qualification for Russia 2018 with victory over Japan in Saitama tomorrow night (Thurs Aug 31).
The result also keeps UAE alive in the race for third spot ahead of their final group match against Iraq on Tuesday.
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