Lots to work on as Roberto Mancini suffers losing start as Saudi Arabia coach

Green Falcons beaten 3-1 by Costa Rica in Newcastle

Saudi Arabia manager Roberto Mancini during the match against Costa Rica. Getty
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Saudi Arabia suffered a 3-1 friendly defeat to Costa Rica on Friday night as Roberto Mancini's tenure as manager got off to a losing start.

The former Italy coach, who was last month confirmed as the new boss of the Green Falcons, took charge of the team for the first time in a game played at Newcastle United's St James's Park stadium, but will have been disappointed as they were soundly beaten by Los Ticos.

For the Costa Ricans, the game was notable for the return of former Real Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas.

The 36-year-old Navas had not played for Costa Rica since last year's World Cup in Qatar, missing a couple of friendlies and the CONCACAF Gold Cup in July.

The Central Americans took the lead in the 12th minute when defender Francisco Calvo headed home Joel Campbell's cross.

Manfred Ugalde made it 2-0 just past the half-hour mark with another header in the six-yard box from Jimmy Marin's pass.

Saudi Arabia pulled one back in the 68th minute when Ali Al Bulayhi headed in Feras Al Brikan's pass from a corner.

However, they could not find the equaliser and Costa Rica wrapped up the win when Randall Leal fired home in the 89th.

Costa Rica face the UAE in a friendly in Croatia on Tuesday, while Saudi Arabia play South Korea back at Newcastle United's home ground.

Updated: September 09, 2023, 11:28 AM