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.