Baku, May 8, AZERTAC
Palestine and Oman played out an entertaining 2-2 draw at the Azal Arena on Monday to open their Group B campaigns at the Islamic Solidarity Games in Baku.
Pre-match favourites Palestine took less than five minutes to take the lead through youngster Oday Dabbagh, but Oman striker Marwan Awlad Wadi levelled shortly after half-time.
Although Dabbagh put his team back into the lead with his second goal, Awlad Wadi also completed a brace to snatch a point late on. It was a rematch of the 2014 Asian Games group-stage game, which Palestine won 2-0, but this time they found themselves up against an enterprising Oman team. Palestine are no longer total minnows in the footballing world, after their senior side sprung a surprise in qualifying for the 2015 Asian Cup.
Roared on by a small, but enthusiastic, group of fans, the men in white began on the front foot and broke the deadlock in the fifth minute.
The 17-year-old Dabbagh, who was in the last first-team squad that beat the Maldives in 2019 Asian Cup qualifying, broke through the defence and steered a calm volley into the far corner of the net.
Midfielder Salaah Al Yahyaei came close to an instant riposte for Oman, only for Palestine captain Ghanim Mahajna to turn his shot to safety at full stretch.
The first period petered out as Palestine fired several hopeful efforts over the bar, but Oman struck less than three minutes after the interval.
Awlad Wadi latched onto a through ball and left the opposition defence for dead before slotting confidently past Mahajna.
But the teenager Dabbagh produced another moment of real quality to restore the Palestinian advantage just seven minutes later.
The forward held off the attentions of Oman centre-back Juma Al-Habsi and lashed in a superb left-footed finish at the near post.
But Ayman Sandouqah's outfit were left deflated in the 86th mimute, when 21-year-old Awlad Wadi found himself in the perfect place again to score a goal almost identical to his first.
Algeria lead the fledgling Group B table after their dramatic 2-1 victory over Turkey earlier on Monday.
Palestine have two days' rest before taking on the young Desert Foxes on Thursday, after Oman play Turkey.
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