Mahdi Al-Humaidan scores late as India go down to Bahrain
Bahrain continued their unbeaten run against India as they beat the Blue Tigers 2-1 in an international friendly at the Al Muharraq Stadium in Bahrain on Wednesday.
The hosts had taken the lead through Mohamed Al Hardan (37’) before Rahul Bheke (59') brought India back in the game but a late strike by Mahdi Al-Humaidan (88') gave Bahrain the victory.
Bahrain started the better of the two sides as they were exploiting the empty space in the India backline and should have gone in front in the sixth minute when a penalty was awarded to Mahdi Al-Humaidan inside the box but India's captain Gurpreet Sandhu saved the penalty with a full-length dive and denied the Helio Sousa's men from scoring the first goal.
Sousa’s men continued to carry a threat on the counter-attack and ten minutes later it was Humaidan’s turn to have a crack at goal as he found himself in a bit of space inside the box but his shot was off target.
The Blue Tigers almost sneaked into the lead in the 18th minute when Manvir put in a cross in the center of the box for Danish Farooq, however, the midfielder's header wasn't on target and chance went begging.
Bahrain kept knocking on the door and in the 37th minute, the deadlock was broken by Mohammed Al-Hardan, as he made no mistake this time and gave Bahrain the 1-0 lead with a brilliant finish.
Just before halftime, Bahrain were awarded a free-kick close to the penalty box, but they failed to convert their chance. Igor Stimac's men were fortunate to be still in touching distance of Bahrain as the first half drew to a close.
Stimac’s men started the second half strongly and should have scored the equaliser when Roshan Naorem Singh who was played in on goal failed to score as his shot went off target in the 47th minute.
Bahrain took command as the minutes ticked by and retained possession excellently in the middle of the pitch. There were a few chances but both keepers thwarted whatever the forwards threw at them.
But much against the run of play the Blue Tigers equalised when Bheke scored a header from close range from a Roshan corner kick in the 59th minute.
In the 65th minute, Bahrain had an opportunity to regain the lead as they launched a quick counter-attack and played a brilliant cross from the left side for Humaidan within the six-yard box. But the 28-years old striker failed to capitalise on the chance.
Both clubs battled relentlessly to score the decider. Humaidan tried his best to find a way through but was unable to do so. The Blue Tigers' substitutes too didn’t have the desired impact.
But just when it seemed that the two teams would call a truce, Bahrain carved out an opportunity that was converted by Humaidan with a fine finish in the 81st minute. The work though for that goal was largely done by Kamil Al Aswad who delivered a pinpoint cross after making a great run into the space on the right-hand side.
The Blue Tigers couldn’t conjure up a response having fallen behind so late in the game as Bahrain claimed the victory.
India will be up against Belarus on Saturday in their next match, while Bahrain's next fixture is against Burundi on the same day.