RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (CMC):
Trinidad and Tobago recovered from a sloppy start to draw level with United Arab Emirates (UAE) in injury time, but lost a penalty-kick battle in the opening match of the OSN Cup on Thursday night.
UAE prevailed 7-6 on a penalty shoot-out that went to sudden death at the King Fahd International Stadium.
Second-half goals from Willis Plaza, skipper Kenwyne Jones, and Kevin Molino pulled the Soca Warriors back into the game after a miserable start in which they trailed 2-0 at the interval.
UAE was cruising comfortably after goals by Ismail Mohamed, a free header in the eighth minute from a left-side corner, and a long-range strike by Ali Ahmed Alhajeri in the 40th minute.
MOST DANGEROUS PLAYER ON THE PITCH
Midfielder Omar Alamoudi, UAE's most dangerous player on the pitch, played a ball into the box for Ahmed Aljunaibi to hit past Jan Michael Williams in the 54th minute to push further ahead 3-0.
Two minutes later, the introduction of Vietnam-based forward, Plaza, brought extra life into the Warriors attack as the visitors started taking the game to UAE.
Plaza found the target with his first touch of the ball, sending a glancing header into the left of the net from Lester Peltier's right-side cross to complete the 56th-minute conversion.
Jones stepped up to convert a penalty kick in the 87th after Plaza was brought down in the penalty box.
Molino completed the late comeback when he guided his header home from Robert Primus' left-side delivery a minute into added-on time to bring the game into penalty kicks.
"Coming from three goals down is no easy feat, and the display by Kenwyne Jones and his teammates must be acknowledged,"said head coach Stephen Hart.
"I'm pleased with the fact that we scored goals and we showed a desire to come back from 3-0 nothing. That in itself is something we can take from this game and build on."
The Trinidadians who arrived in Riyadh 24 hours ahead of kick off and struggled to settle in the first half playing in 42-degree temperature, will now meet Saudi Arabia in Monday's third-place play-off after the hosts were beaten 1-0 by New Zealand.
"We knew the game would be difficult. I thought we were very sloppy in the first half, both when in possession and particularly defensively," Hart said.
"They created maybe three or four chances. We had a much better rhythm in the second half. Willis Plaza came on and did very well for us."