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ROSTOV-ON-DON, Russia, June 22, 2018 (News Wires) - Saudi Arabia are looking towards the Asian Cup with hope after they showed signs of progress in their 1-0 defeat to Uruguay as they exited the World Cup Wednesday.

The Saudis were crushed 5-0 by hosts Russia in the opening game of Group A before a goalkeeping blunder from Mohammed Al-Owais handed Uruguay their place in the last 16 and eliminated the Green Falcons.

Saudi Arabia, however, were competitive throughout, playing neat football and enjoying most of the possession at the Rostov Arena.

"We played at a much better level than in the Russia game, and that is more our style of play, but we just did not have the right tools to break Uruguay down," said Saudi Arabia coach Juan Antonio Pizzi.

Despite occasions of clever passing, the Saudis rarely threatened and managed only three shots on target in their two matches in Russia.

"We had a lot of ball possession and were able to impose our style of play and distribution," said Pizzi.

"We conceded a goal from a random play and didn't have the weapons or tools to try to equalize. We kept the ball well and weren't really troubled defensively, but lacked that ability to score."

"This is our weakness. We have good ball possession, but no effectiveness. We lack the depth and skill required to win these games," he added.

"We have that deficiency and have looked for solutions, but we haven't quite come up with one yet. But that is one of the reasons great forwards are in high demand and are the elite players in world football."

Efficiency is something Saudi Arabia will have to massively improve on for the 2019 Asian Cup in the United Arab Emirates but at least, in one game against Uruguay, they showed pride.

"The difference between this display and the first game was massive, the change was obvious, it gives us tranquillity for the future for the months ahead," Pizzi concluded.

VIENNA, June 22, 2018 (News Wires) - OPEC agreed on Friday on a modest increase in oil production from July after its leader Saudi Arabia persuaded arch-rival Iran to cooperate amid calls from major consumers to help reduce the price of crude and avoid a supply shortage.

Two OPEC sources said the group agreed that OPEC and its allies led by Russia should increase production by about 1 million barrels per day (bpd), or 1 per cent of global supply.

The real increase will be smaller because several countries that recently underproduced oil will struggle to return to full quotas while other producers will not be allowed to fill the gap, OPEC sources have said.

The United States, China and India had urged OPEC to release more supply to prevent an oil deficit that would hurt the global economy.

Saudi Arabia and Russia said they were happy to pump more but Iran had criticised the idea as it faces export-crippling US sanctions.

Iran, OPEC's third-largest producer, had demanded OPEC reject calls from US President Donald Trump for an increase in oil supply, arguing that Trump had contributed to a recent rise in prices by imposing sanctions on Iran and Venezuela.

Trump slapped fresh sanctions on Tehran in May and market watchers expect Iran's output to drop by a third by the end of 2018. That means the country has little to gain from a deal to raise OPEC output, unlike top oil exporter Saudi Arabia.

However, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih appears to have convinced his Iranian peer Bijan Zanganeh to support the increase just hours before Friday's OPEC meeting.

OPEC and its allies have since last year been participating in a pact to cut output by 1.8 million bpd. The measure has helped rebalance the market in the past 18 months and lifted oil to around $75 per barrel from as low as $27 in 2016.

But unexpected outages in Venezuela, Libya and Angola have effectively brought supply cuts to around 2.8 million bpd in recent months.

Brent oil prices were up 1.9 per cent on Friday as the output boost had been largely priced in and was seen as modest.

"It will be enough for now but not enough for the fourth quarter to address a decline in Iranian and Venezuelan exports," said Gary Ross, head of global oil analytics at S&P Global.

"There isn´t a lot of spare capacity in the world. If we lose a million bpd of output from Venezuela and Iran in the fourth quarter, where will all these barrels come from? We are in for higher prices for longer," he said.

The OPEC meeting began around 10:00 GMT and was continuing after two and a half hours.

Falih has warned the world could face a supply deficit of up to 1.8 million bpd in the second half of 2018 and that OPEC's responsibility was to address consumers' worries.

"We want to prevent the shortage and the squeeze that we saw in 2007-2008," Falih said, referring to a time when oil rallied close to $150 per barrel.

OPEC's deal to release more supply centres on the idea of returning to 100 percent compliance with existing, agreed cuts. Current compliance is around 40-50 percent above target because of production outages in Venezuela, Libya and Angola.

Zanganeh has said that if OPEC returned to regular compliance, the group would raise output by around 460,000 bpd. Iran has objected to having members with additional capacity such as Saudi Arabia fill Venezuelan output gaps.

Falih also said the real increase for OPEC and non-OPEC would be smaller than the nominal gain of 1 million bpd. He said OPEC could meet again in September to adjust the deal.

OPEC sources also said Iran had demanded that US sanctions be mentioned in the group's post-meeting communique.

The United States, which rivals Russia and Saudi Arabia for the position of world No.1 oil producer, is not participating in the current supply pact.

Rostov-on-Don, Russia, June 20, 2018 (News Wires) - Luis Suarez made history for Uruguay on Wednesday as he inspired his country to a 1-0 victory over Saudi Arabia in their World Cup Group A clash.

On his 100th international cap, the Barcelona striker tapped home the winning goal from close range in the 23rd minute - his first of the tournament.

It made Suarez the first Uruguayan player to score in three different World Cups as he sealed legendary status for his country.

Saudi Arabia were devoid of ideas and simply could not find a response as Uruguay comfortably preserved their slender lead to ensure that both they and hosts Russia secured their qualification to the knockout stages.

MOSCOW, June 19, 2018 (News Wires) - The Saudi Arabian Football Federation said that its national soccer team landed safely in the Russian city of Rostov after what it described as a minor technical fault in one of the engines.

Videos shared on social media appeared to show an aircraft that posters identified as the Saudi team's plane with its wing on fire while it was in the air.

"All the Saudi national team players are safe, after a technical failure in one of the airplane engines that has just landed," the federation said a statement on Twitter late Monday.

MOSCOW, June 14, 2016 (News Wires) - Finally let loose after a year-long diet of international friendlies, hosts Russia roared their World Cup intent to the rafters yesterday with a 5-0 tournament-opening win over Saudi Arabia.

The Russians served up an adrenaline-fuelled performance for an 80 000-capacity Luzhniki crowd which included President Vladimir Putin and the Saudi crown prince.

The Saudis, ranked three places above Russia at 67 in the world rankings, played some nice, tight football at times, but were never able to match the Russian hosts for energy or intent.

Luzhniki exploded into raptures after only 12 minutes when Yury Gazinsky headed home for the opener. Better still, with Russians looking for the early shoots of a footballing Renaissance in a side cramped by a financially rich but poor quality domestic league, the cross that set up the tournament's opening goal came from CSKA Moscow's 22-year-old Aleksandr Golovin.

His potential move to Juventus stirred excitement at home this week after years in which Europe's best clubs have lost almost all interest in Russian talent.

Denis Cheryshev showed great skill of his own to double the hosts' lead just before halftime with a left-footed piledriver, and Artem Dzyuba headed Russia's third in the 71st minute - 89 seconds after coming on as a substitute.

Cheryshev and Golovin hit a further two in injury time, the latter from a free kick, to complete the visitors' misery.

Egypt and Uruguay are due to play the second Group A match in Yekaterinburg today.

MOSCOW, June 14, 2018 (News Wires) - Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak will meet Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih on Thursday, a Kremlin schedule showed.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has previously said that the two delegations would discuss an agreement on cutting global oil production which Saudi Arabia and Russia are leading, but did not plan to discuss an exit from the deal.

Crown Prince Mohammed is one of many world leaders visiting Russia for the soccer World Cup, which opens later on Thursday. The Saudi and Russian soccer teams are due to play one another in the first game of the tournament.

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