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Thimphu: Oman kept their hopes of first place in Group D of the qualifying rounds for the AFC Asian Cup 2019 alive on Tuesday evening as Pim Verbeek’s side eventually saw off Bhutan to pick up a 4-2 win.

The victory moves Oman on to 12 points from five games and they are due to face group leaders Palestine on Matchday Six, where a win by a two-goal margin would be enough for the Gulf side to claim first place.

Verbeek’s team were made to work for the three points by Bhutan, however, and, after a goalless first half, the visitors took the lead when Sami Al Hassani headed home at the near post just three minutes after the restart.

Bhutan, though, stunned Oman just 11 minutes later when Chencho Gyeltshen led his team on a counter-attack before laying the ball off to Karma Shedrup Tshering and his shot from outside the area slipped under goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi.

With 15 minutes remaining Oman reclaimed the lead when Raed Ibrahim Saleh’s right-foot shot from outside the area beat goalkeeper Hari Gurung and finally Verbeek’s team assumed control.

In the 85th minute they doubled their lead when Saleh bundled the ball over the line from close range before Saleh completed his hat-trick when he added his side’s fourth a minute before the end of regulation time with another close-range effort.

The goal of the night, though, came from the home side in injury time when Chencho struck from long range after a free-kick was tapped in his direction and his low strike gave veteran goalkeeper Al Habsi little chance.

Photos: AFC

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