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Bahrain advance to play off with New Zealand

  • Story Highlights
  • Bahrain advance to New Zealand play off after 2-2 draw with Saudi Arabia
  • The result sees Bahrain advance on away-goals rule after two legs played
  • First time Saudi Arabia will not be at the World Cup since 1990
  • New Zealand double-header will be played during October and November
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(CNN) -- Two injury-time goals at the King Fahd international stadium saw a dramatic conclusion to the Asian World Cup play off, in which Bahrain advanced on away goals to face New Zealand at the cost of Saudi Arabia after a 2-2 draw.

Bahrain players celebrate

Bahraini players celebrate the 2-2 draw with Saudi Arabia, which keeps them on course for a maiden World Cup berth.

The first of the two-legged play off between the Middle East rivals ended 0-0 in Manama at the weekend, so nerves were calmed in Riyadh when the Saudis took the lead through Nasser Al Shamrani on 13 minutes.

Mohammed Noor provided a slide-rule pass for Al Shamrani who struck home after Yasser Al Qahtani had started the move.

The advantage then swung back to the visitors, when Jaycee Okwunwanne equalized three minutes before half time, a score that would have been enough to see Bahrain progress if made into a result.

The game had further twists to come, however, as the Saudi World Cup dream was resurrected when Hamad Al-Montashari scored in injury time for the home side -- Al Qahtani turning provider this time crossing for Al-Montashari to head home.

But the home fans' hearts were broken soon after when Abdullatif headed home Salman Isa's corner.

Bahrain now has the opportunity to reach their first ever World Cup finals when they take on Oceania winners, New Zealand, over two legs for a place in the draw for the finals in December.

After the game, Bahrain coach, Milan Macala told "Now we will start thinking about preparing for our next game and I hope to see Bahrain in the World Cup finals."

The home and away two-legged play-off against New Zealand will take place during October and November with the winner advancing to South Africa next year.

The late Bahraini equalizer means Saudi Arabia have failed to qualify for a World Cup finals for the first time since 1990, after going to four successive tournaments.

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