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Sun 18 Jan 2009 08:07 AM

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Oman win Gulf Cup on penalties

For Oman, it's third time lucky, snatching the cup from Saudi in a 6-5 sudden death penalty shootout.

Oman captured their elusive Gulf Cup in their third attempt, beating Saudi Arabia 6-5 in a sudden death penalty shootout in the final at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex on Saturday.

With the victory, Oman have broken their jinx - beating the Saudis for the first time after 14 previous failures to become the third straight host nation to win the event.

Qatar won the title in 2004, followed by the UAE in 2007, with Oman finishing runners-up on both occasions.

After a scoreless 120 minutes, the match entered into a shootout where the two teams were inseparable after each converted their share of five penalties, according to Qatar daily Gulf Times.

At the start of the sudden death, Saudi Arabia's Ahmed Otaif shot wide but Oman defender Mohammed Rabia kept his cool to slot home, sending fans at the stadium into raptures.

The hosts took the challenge to the three-time winners Saudi Arabia from the outset and had several scoring chances.

Hassan Rabia, the tournament's leading scorer with four goals, Imad al-Hosni, Fawzi Bashir and Ismail al-Ajmi all went close to scoring but were either off target or denied by some brilliant saves from Waleed Abdullah at the Saudi goal.

Oman again looked the more enterprising of the sides in the second half, forcing their way into Saudi territory. But for all their tireless efforts, it was another tale of missed opportunities.

After missing a header on a Bashir cross in the 52nd minute, Rabia saw his glancing header go just over the bar in the 66th minute.

In the 84th minute, al-Hosni, who plies his trade in Qatar with Al Rayyan Club, was unlucky to see his header hit the upright after keeper Abdullah put his hand to it.

The Saudis, chasing their fourth title, looked tentative all evening, except for some sporadic attacks now and then. Both the best Saudi chances fell to captain Yasser al-Qahtani who failed to convert them.

After shooting wide from inside the area in the hour-mark, he had a great opportunity to seal victory for the Saudis towards the end of second-half of extra time.

But his low right-footed shot from point-blank range was blocked by Omani keeper Ali al-Habsi, who was later adjudged the tournament's best goalkeeper.

When Omani striker Rabia's header – the last move of the open play – sailed wide, the referee called for the shootoout.

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