Saudis back on track with a big Asian Cup victory

SAUDI Arabia has put its Asian Cup campaign back on track with a 4-1 win over North Korea in Melbourne.

The minnows did give the three-time champion a scare, though, after taking the lead after 11 minutes as Japan-based Ryang Yong-gi slammed home.

Giant striker Pak Kwang-ryong's fierce drive had been parried by goalkeeper Waleed Abdullah and Ryang coolly slotted the rebound with a smart finish.

It was the first goal the North Koreans had scored in 23 years at the Asian Cup and for most of the first half an upset looked on the cards.

But Naif Hazazi equalised against the run of play eight minutes before half-time and the tide began to turn.

The game was turned on its head early in the second half when Mohammed Al Sahlawi scored twice inside two minutes to put the Saudis 3-1 up.

Nawaf Alabid extended the lead after reacting sharply to having his penalty saved by Ri Myong-Guk.

Saudi Arabia faces Uzbekistan in its final group game on Sunday in Melbourne, needing a win to move through to the quarter-finals.