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Scrappy Bangladesh edge past Pakistan
Defender Tapu Barman scored four-minutes from final whistle as hosts Bangladesh defeated Pakistan 1-0 to grab their second successive win of the 12th SAFF Championship at the Bangabandhu National Stadium on Thursday.
With the win, Bangladesh were leading the Group A table with full six points from two matches, three points ahead of both Nepal and Pakistan.
This was also for the first time since 2009 that Bangladesh won their two successive games of the championship.
Now a draw against Nepal in their final group match would be enough for the hosts to book their place in the last four of the championship.
Nepal and Pakistan also have equal chance of qualifying from this group but they must have to win their respective final group matches against Bangladesh and Bhutan.
If Nepal win their last match and Pakistan also beat Bhutan then both the team’s will earn equal six points and head-to-head equation will also be equal.
In that case goal difference would be vital in a bid to qualify for the knock-out stage.
Bangladesh coach Jamie Day made only one change to the 2-0 win over Bhutan by bringing in experienced Mamunul Islam in place of Atiqur Rahman Fahad.
However, the home side looked disorganised in the first half after Pakistan took a defensive strategy.
As a result, Bangladesh’s lone striker Mahbubur Rahman Sufil looked isolated.
The home side also failed to use their wings and tried long passes that proved ineffective as the Pakistani players took the advantage of their heights.
Physically stronger Pakistan back-four were always busy to clear the balls from the defence line.
Pakistan initiated their defence from the midfield with captain Saddam Hossain battled for the ball with the Bangladeshi midfielders.
Pakistan, moreover, got a rare chance to take the lead in the ninth minute when expatriate forward Muhammad Ali headed on a long cross but Bangladesh keeper Shahidul Alam Sohel was there to tip the ball away for a corner.
In the second half, Sohel made another good save to deny Ali’s powerful effort from the left corner of the box after the striker stanched a ball from Bangladesh defender Tutul Hossain Badshah.
Bangladesh had the first shot on target in the 58th minute when Biplo Ahmed tried a powerful shot from 25-yard out but his effort was deflected by Pakistani defender Mohsin Ali before keeper Ijaz Butt gripped it.
Bangladesh got a great chance to score in the 83rd minute when Mamunul Islam provided a low free-kick in the goal mouth melee and Tapu Barman was there to tap home but the defender missed it from a handshaking distance.
However, the defender atoned for his mistake just three minutes later when he headed home from a goalmouth scramble following a long throw-in from Bishwanath Ghosh.