Abdulatif scores 4 as Bahrain beats India 5-2

Bahrain striker Ismaeel Abdulatif scored four goals in a
rollercoaster 5-2 win over India on Friday that kept alive his
side’s hopes of reaching the quarterfinals while ending those of
the opposition.

Gouramangi Singh tapped in India’s first goal of the tournament
to make it 1-1 shortly after Faouzi Aaish had given Bahrain the
lead from the penalty spot in the eighth minute. Abdulatif then
scored a 19-minute hat trick to send Bahrain in at half time with a
4-1 lead.

Bahrain was rattled when Sunil Chhetri pulled one back for India
after the break and then Aaish was sent off for his second booking
in the 62nd.

But Abdulatif drove home his fourth to seal the win and leave
his side on three points, one behind Australia and South Korea in
Group C. The forward became just the third player in Asian Cup
history to score four goals in a game.

”It was a very good match of course,” Bahrain coach Salman
Shareeda said. ”We lost to Korea so this match was very important
for both teams. We needed this victory and it only came through
good morale, spirit and performance.

”In the second half, India had nothing to lose, so we had to be
careful. We wanted more goals, but then we had the sending
off.”

Bahrain plays Australia in its final group game, needing to win
to advance to the last eight.

”The reality is that Korea and Australia have a better chance,
because of their record,” Shareeda said. ”But we now have new
hope.”

India remains on zero points, and has conceded nine goals in its
two games, but its English coach Bob Houghton was philosophical
after the game.

”It was a tough group. It is a considerable challenge to play
three opponents like that in eight days,” he said. ”We
congratulate Bahrain for a good win. From our perspective, we can
say we have a team that don’t give up. The last two games, we were
3-0 down and 4-1 down at half time, and we’ve gone out in the
second half and made a fight of it.”

In a frantic opening to a match played in front of a
near-capacity crowd at Al-Sadd Stadium, India came close to taking
the lead after three minutes.

Chhetri’s sweetly struck volley was heading for the top corner
but Bahrain goalkeeper Mahmood Mansoor tipped the ball over, and
five minutes later, India fell behind when Climax Lawrence
completely mistimed his tackle on Aaish, who sent the goalkeeper
the wrong way from the spot.

India’s vocal support was only briefly silenced though as a
minute later, Abhishek Yadav beat his defender to a high ball in
the box and headed across goal for an unmarked Gouramangi to finish
from close range.

But in a game featuring two shaky defenses, it was Bahrain’s
more potent attack – led by the deadly Abdulatif – that proved to
be the difference.

India’s backline, which leaked four goals against Australia in
its opening game, proved particularly vulnerable down Bahrain’s
left. India goalkeeper Subrata Paul tried to clear Aaish’s low ball
in with his legs but hit it straight to Abdulatif, who only had to
direct the ball back into the empty net for his first goal after 16
minutes.

Jaycee John was the provider for Bahrain’s third goal, a simple
cutback from the left byline giving Abdulatif a tap-in in the 19th
before the striker completed a quickfire hat trick by sidefooting
home after India’s defense carelessly gave the ball away.

India’s fans, who outnumbered their Bahrain counterparts by
about three to one, were back on song after 52 minutes when their
team pulled one back – eventually. First, Rendey Singh’s long range
shot came back off the bar, then Abhishek Yadav headed the rebound
on to the woodwork before Chhetri finally headed past a helpless
Mansoor.

India’s hopes of an unlikely comeback were further raised when
Aaish, who had been booked shortly before for an ugly tackle on
Lawrence, was sent off in the 62nd for an obvious dive to try to
win a penalty.

The lively Chhetri cut inside his marker and shot wide in the
64th, but Abdulatif took the wind out of India’s sails in the 77th
when he picked up the ball on the right hand side of the box and
drove a powerful shot into the far corner.

Abdulatif received a rapturous ovation from the Bahrain fans
when he was substituted on 83 minutes, and that also spelled the
end of the scoring in an enthralling game, which may have been
lacking in quality but was high on drama.

Lineups:

Bahrain: Mahmood Mansoor, Abdulla Marzooqi, Hamada Rakea, Jaycee
John (Abdulla Fatadi, 79), Ismaeel Abdullatif (Dawood Saad, 83),
Faouzi Aaish, Salman Isa, Abdulla Omar, Abdulwahab Ali, Abdulla
al-Dakeel (Mahmood Abdulrahman, 67), Ebrahim Meshkhas.

India: Subrata Paul, Anwar, N.P. Pradeep (Deepak Kumar Mandal,
74), Renedy Singh (Merajuddin Wadoo, 74), Abishek Yadav, Sunil
Chhetri, Surkumar Singh, Gouramangi Singh, Climax Lawrence, Syed
Rahim Nabi, Steven Dias.