Late Adil Khan header helps India rescue a point against Bangladesh
India had to rely on a late Adil Khan header to earn a point against Bangladesh in their third Group E encounter of the joint FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 preliminary Qualifiers campaign at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata on Tuesday. A robust defensive display from Bangladesh, coupled with a first-half goal by Saad Uddin, seemed to have placed the visitors on the road to a memorable victory, but Adil’s late goal meant the two sides had to settle for a point each.
- Saad Uddin’s header gave Bangladesh the lead in the 42nd minute.
- Mohammad Ibrahim hit the crossbar on the 54-minute mark.
- Anas Edathodika’s header was cleared off the line on the hour mark.
- Adil Khan’s goal-line clearance on the 73rd minute kept the difference to just the solitary goal.
- Adil then popped up at the other end on the 88th minute to score the equaliser.
India head coach Igor Stimac named an attacking line-up, with the returning Sunil Chhetri accompanied by the likes of Udanta Singh, Ashique Kuruniyan, Manvir Singh and Sahal Abdul Samad. Anas Edathodika, meanwhile, was granted his first start after coming out of retirement. The veteran defender slotted in at centre back in place of the injured Sandesh Jhingan. Bangladesh head coach Jamie Day, too, fielded a strong starting XI led by captain Jamal Bhuyan.
The visitors almost raced off the blocks and saw a penalty appeal turned down within 30 seconds of the match after Rahul Bheke’s challenge on a marauding Mohammad Ibrahim inside the box. The India team, too, responded in kind as Sunil Chhetri drew the first save of the match around the four-minute mark from Bangladesh goalkeeper Ashraful Islam Rana.
As the match progressed the Blue Tigers slowly grew into the match and came close to finding a way through eleven minutes in, after a cheeky set-piece routine found Bheke with enough room at the far post. The right back headed it across goal into the danger zone, but the Bangladesh defence managed to clear the danger. Despite a lot of attacking intent on show, the lack of the desired final ball and some resolute defending by the Bangladeshi backline, particularly Yeasin Khan, saw wave after wave of Indian offensives break down in the final stages.
The visitors came mighty close to taking the lead around the 30-minute mark, much against the flow of the match. A defensive misstep by Adil Khan allowed Biplo Ahamed a free run at goal. The Bangladeshi no. 7 fizzed a ball across goal in an attempt to find his teammate but Anas was in position to clear the danger and bail his centre back partner out. The Blue Tigers upped the ante after surviving the close call and almost found a way through. Manvir got on the end of a Bheke throw in, but his looping header was kept out by Ashraful.
The deadlock was finally broken on the 42nd minute. Jamal Bhuyan’s whipped free kick from the right eluded the entire India defence and an outstretched Gurpreet Singh Sandhu to find its way to Saad Uddin at the far post. The striker made no mistakes and nodded it home to make it 0-1. The two teams headed into half-time with the visitors holding the narrow advantage.
The Blue Tigers showed a lot more drive after the restart and pressed high up the pitch, opening the match up. Udanta’s shot was blocked off by the brilliant Yeasin on one end of the pitch, while Gurpreet had to make a crucial save off Mohammad Nabib Ziban after the Bangladeshi striker found himself free on goal following a quick breakaway almost immediately after the Udanta chance. The visitors were unlucky not to extend their lead on the 54th minute as Ibrahim’s attempted cross looped over Gurpreet but came out after hitting the crossbar.
In an attempt to change the game, Stimac brought on Brandon Fernandes in place of Mandar Rao Dessai, and tweaked the formation a bit. India’s coveted equaliser almost came about just before the hour mark as Anas outjumped his marker to get his head to a Anirudh Thapa corner. The attempt had Ashraful beat but Ibrahim was at hand to affect a goal-line clearance. Ten minutes later, Sahal Abdul Samad tested Ashraful with a long ranger but the Bangladesh keeper was up to the task.
Bangladesh kept creating chances of their own at the other end and were inches away from finding their cushion on the 73rd minute. Ziban got behind the India backline and managed to chip an onrushing Gurpreet, but a last-ditch clearance by Adil kept the difference to just the solitary goal.
The Blue Tigers threw the proverbial kitchen sink at their opponents in a bid to claw their way back into the contest but found little joy with Bangladeshi players crowding their own box. The equaliser did come, however, through a set piece. Brandon’s floated corner was glanced in by Adil on the 88th minute to set up a riveting finish to the contest. Minutes later, Chhetri could have completed the late turnaround as he twisted and turned at the edge of the box and got his shot off. The India skipper’s attempt was, unfortunately, too straight to beat Ashraful. The match eventually ended with the two sides sharing the spoils.
Watch the match highlights here:
The Blue Tigers’ next match in the Qualifiers will be against Afghanistan on November 14.