Sharjah: Jamal Rashed’s penalty in added time secured Bahrain a 1-0 win over India on Monday, taking them into the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 knockout stage.
With United Arab Emirates and Thailand playing to a 1-1 draw, Bahrain finished third in Group A with their haul of four points confirming them as one of the best four third-placed teams who will advance to the Round of 16.
UAE won the group with five points while Thailand, defeated 4-1 by India on Matchday One, completed an amazing comeback to seal second spot. The Southeast Asians finished above Bahrain based on their head-to-head record, with Thailand having won 1-0 on Matchday Two.
India suffered early problems at the back when Anas Edathodika was forced off with an injury in the fourth minute and was replaced with Salam Ranjan Singh.
Bahrain then applied pressure on the Blue Tigers’ defence as goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu was called into action three minutes later when he saved Sayed Dhiya Saeed’s left footed shot from outside the box.
UAE will now meet the best third-placed team from either Group C, D or E while Thailand will meet the runners-up of Group C. Bahrain’s reward is a meeting with the winners of either Group B or C.
India were able to calm their nerves and responded in the 20th minute with Sunil Chhetri coming close to scoring for Stephen Constantine’s side but the striker failed to steer Gurpreet Singh’s long pass home.
Bahrain were the more dangerous side but wasted chances with Jamal Rashed and Sayed Dhiya Saeed both failing to find the mark with long-range efforts.
Miroslav Soukup’s side continued to press as they laid siege on India but were unable to convert their dominance into goals.
If India had hoped to have a bigger share of the match in the second half, Bahrain quickly put paid to that notion as they continued from where they had left off with Soukup’s team continuing to dominate.
The West Asians had a glimpse at goal in the 61st minute but Komail Alaswad failed to get his effort from outside the box on target.
Against the run of play, India had a golden opportunity five minutes later from a set-piece but Sunil Chhetri struck his free-kick way over the bar.
As the minutes ticked away, Bahrain turned on the pressure and came close when substitute Mohamed Marhoon looked to have scored, only for the woodwork to deny him.India continued to repel Bahrain’s advances but finally conceded a penalty late in the game after Hamed Alshamsan was brought down by Pronay Halder.
Rashed made no mistake from the spot, sending Gurpreet Singh the wrong way as Bahrain claimed the three points.