Lebanon secure confidence-building draw ahead of World Cup qualifier

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Lebanon picked up a respectable 1-1 draw away to Oman Sunday in the national team’s final preparation game before the Cedars start the fourth round of World Cup qualifying next Sunday. Mohammad Ghaddar scored in the first half, his first goal for Lebanon since he netted in the side’s 3-1 win over the UAE last September, before Walid Saadi equalized for Oman 10 minutes after the restart.

While Lebanon are without a win in four games, losing to the UAE, Egypt and Jordan, the Cedars can at least take consolation in Sunday’s performance. Since beating Iraq in January, Lebanon have been guilty of playing some shoddy football, going against the ingrained principles that secured them wins over South Korea and Kuwait. On Sunday, however, Lebanon played with much greater control, dominating the entire first half, and passed Oman to death for large periods of the game.

Haytham Faour went back to being his metronomic self in the midfield, while Ghaddar and Zakaria Charara, who went off injured in the first half, were constant menaces.

It was the aforementioned duo who opened the scoring for Lebanon after 24 minutes. Charara turned his man inside out on the left wing before swinging a shallow cross toward Ghaddar, who was positioned on the end of the penalty area. Somehow the former Nejmeh striker managed to generate enough power to beat the Omani goalkeeper with a well placed header from 18 yards out. Oman worried Lebanon only twice in a first half of near total dominance.

Lebanon’s poise and control would desert them early in the second half as their defense was opened up by slick passing that led to Ziad Samad eventually spilling a shot straight into the path of Saadi who finished with ease.

Neither side was able to grab a decisive goal late on.

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