Qualifiers - Group B: Bahrain leave it late to advance
Manama: Two late goals against Palestine dramatically took Bahrain to the AFC U23 Championship Thailand 2020 Finals, after the Group B hosts secured a crucial 2-0 win on Tuesday.
PALESTINE 0-2 BAHRAIN
Entering the match level on points and goal difference, both sides knew a win in the final match at Khalifa Sports City Stadium would guarantee progression to Thailand 2020, and a suitably hard-fought contest followed.
A tense first half brought plenty of action, but no goals, as both sides were denied by the woodwork, and Bahrain nearly forced a Mohamed Jassim Marhoon corner kick over the line three minutes into the second period.
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Cheered on by a home crowd, Bahrain continued to surge forward in search a breakthrough, and when Hashim Sayed Isa saw an effort cleared off the line, and another saved by Omar Nahfawi a minute later, they might have been forgiven for thinking it might never come.
But Bahrain's breakthrough did materialise, with captain Mohamed Yusuf Hardan assuming the responsibility of thumping in a 78th-minute penalty kick after Palestine's Hani Abdallah committed a reckless foul,
With elimination staring Palestine in the face, the game opened up, and Bahrain's passage to the Finals was sealed when substitute Ahmed Al Sherooqi slammed in a Marhoon cross in the dying moments to make it 2-0.
Palestine's defeat means they will not feature in Thailand, which comes as a disappointment after they impressed to reach the quarter-finals in the 2018 edition.
BANGLADESH 2-0 SRI LANKA
Bangladesh completed their unsuccessful campaign on a winning note, defeating Sri Lanka 2-0 in their final Group B fixture.
Both teams had been eliminated from the qualification race 48 hours earlier, but Bangladesh emerged victorious in the all-South Asian clash thanks two goals in the opening 20 minutes.
Under the tutelage of English head coach James Day, the Bangladeshi side had impressed in narrow 1-0 defeats to Bahrain and Palestine, but here they wasted little time in finding the net through Biplo Ahmed, who opened the scoring in the fifth minute.
Their position became even stronger 13 minutes later, when Abahani Limited Dhaka defender Tutul Badsha waltzed into open space before slamming the ball past Sri Lankan goalkeeper Mohomadu Ishan to make it 2-0.
#MatchResult #IndependenceDay #Friendly#BangladeshGreen 2 (3) : (2) 2 #BangladeshRed— BFF (@bff_football) March 26, 2019
Scorers: Md Elias 10’, Md Alfaz 35’ (P) (Green); Nokib 5’, 16’ (Red)
Venue: BFF Artificial Turf, Motijheel, Dhaka
Chief Guest: BFF senior vice-president #AbdusSalamMurshedy, MP pic.twitter.com/GQ80GVdLzp
Sri Lanka had experienced defensive collapses in their previous matches, both 9-0 defeats, but they managed to avoid a similar fate this time around, preventing Bangladesh from adding to their lead throughout the remainder of the match.
Despite their improved defensive display, Sri Lanka weren't able to break through for a goal of their own, providing Bangladesh with some small consolation to end their campaign.
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