AFC U-16 Championship 2018 Qualifiers Group A: Jordan take top spot, Saudi Arabia remain in chase
Riyadh: Jordan's nervous wait ended in joy as they clinched an automatic berth for the AFC U-16 Championship 2018 Malaysia on Sunday.
Jordan had done their job by beating a resilient Bahrain 3-2 earlier on Sunday but their fate depended on how Uzbekistan fared against hosts Saudi Arabia in Group A's final match at the Al Riyadh Sports Club.
Saudi Arabia left it late, but came through as they beat Uzbekistan 1-0 to finish their campaign in second place - which could still see them qualifying for the Finals - and their win ensured automatic qualification for Jordan.
Jordan got a dream start as Raziq Mohammed Banihani gave them the lead in the eighth minute but Bahrain, already out of the running, were not about to give up meekly.
Sayed Jawad Alawi equalised in the 18th minute but Jordan still seemed to be in control when Mohannad Jehad Ahmad Semreen restored their lead in the 36th.
Semreen widened the lead even further as he struck again three minutes later and Jordan would have been a happy team during the break.
Bahrain failed to make much headway when the match resumed but just when Jordan looked to be home and dry, Alawi scored his second in the 70th minute.
That set the stage for a nervous 20 minutes for Jordan but they held on for the three points.
For Saudi Arabia, the hero was striker Hassan Al Ali as he struck the winner in the 79th minute, a goal which could take his team to the Finals.