DUBAI (AFP) - Three-time winners Saudi Arabia laid down a marker as they ruthlessly dismissed 10-man North Korea at the Asian Cup on Tuesday (Jan 8).
The Saudis, humbled at last year's World Cup in Russia, looked far more at home in neighbouring United Arab Emirates as they tore North Korea apart 4-0 in their opening Group E game.
It was a performance that tagged Saudi Arabia as one of the teams to beat at the continental showpiece along with Iran, who thrashed Yemen 5-0 on Monday.
The Green Falcons attacked relentlessly in the opening stages and Hatan Bahbri put them in front in the 28th minute, turning defender Ri Il Jin inside out and firing into the far corner.
They were 2-0 up nine minutes later when Hussain Almoqahwi's free kick glanced off the outstretched boot of Mohammed Al Fatil and past Ri Myong Guk in the North Korean goal.
North Korea already had a mountain to climb, but their plight worsened just before half-time when Han Kwang Song received his second yellow card for bringing down Almoqahwi.
Salem Al Dawsari made it 3-0 with a smart finish on 69 minutes before Fahad Al Muwallad bagged a soft fourth goal against an exhausted Korean defence three minutes from time.