Rashed makes India pay the penalty as Bahrain advance
Bahrain's Ahmed Ali Juma and India's Sandesh vie for the ball at the Sharjah stadium.
Sharjah - Relentless pressure from Bahrain in the dying minutes saw captain Halder make a poor challenge on Hamad
By Rituraj Borkakoty
Published: Mon 14 Jan 2019, 9:58 PM
Last updated: Tue 15 Jan 2019, 12:04 AM
A late penalty from Jamal Rashed broke Indian hearts as Bahrain entered the Round of 16 of the AFC Asian Cup with a 1-0 win in their final Group A game at the Sharjah Stadium on Monday.
India defended as though they were playing for their lives, but the relentless pressure from Bahrain in the dying minutes saw captain Pronay Halder make a poor challenge on Hamad Mahmood inside the box.
Rashed effortlessly converted the penalty in the 91st minute, ending India's hopes of entering the Asian Cup knockout rounds for the first time.
Bahrain had the first shot on target when poor defensive play gave Komail Hasan Al Aswad space on the edge of the box in the fourth minute. But the midfielder's effort was punched away by Indian goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu with the ball falling on the feet of Jamal Rashed whose shot missed the target.
Bahrain continued to put pressure on India and almost immediately Sayed Dhiya Saeed hit an ambitious long-distance shot that failed to trouble Sandhu.
Despite the relentless Bahraini pressure in the early stages of the first half, India showed they could build moves of their own as some delightful work on the left flank from Ashique Kuruniyan gave them a hint of a chance in the 14th minute, but the Bahraini backline rose to the challenge.
While the passionate Indian fans never stopped cheering for their team, it's their backline that put a smile on Stephen Constantine face in the dugout.
Despite losing defender Anas Edathodika - who was replaced by Salam Singh - to an injury in the third minute, Indian defensive play frustrated the Bahrainis who began playing a few wayward passes in the middle of the park.
Then in the 26th minute, India showed they were not afraid of playing with a high defensive line as Halicharan Narzary's strength allowed him to take on two Bahraini defenders and Sunil Chhetri soon found himself in a promising position inside the Bahraini box, but a poor first touch left the Indian talisman scratching his head.
Bahrain soon regained control of the midfield, but their attacking play in the final third lacked bite and it was India that went into dressing room with their heads held high.
India began the second half with striker Jeje in place of Kuruniyan. But it was Bahrain that continued to look for a goal as Al Aswad's long-distance shot flew over the crossbar in the 60th minute.
India's resilience, though, kept troubling Bahrain as the impressive Udanta Singh's darting run earned India a freekick only for Chhetri to waste it with a poor effort in the 63rd minute.
Udanta was in the thick of the action three minutes later with a superb tackle inside his own box to deny the Bahrainis a scoring chance.
But Bahrain had their best chance in the 73rd minute when chaotic play by the Indian backline saw Sandhu collect a back pass from an Indian defender. Bahrain missed the freekick from inside India's box, thanks to Sandhu who made up for his mistake with a heroic save.
UAE 1 Thailand 1
Bahrain 1 India 0