Bahrain beat Jordan to top group

January 25 – Bahrain made it back-to-back wins at the Asian Cup as they edged out Jordan 1-0 to claim a thoroughly deserved place in the last 16 of the competition as both sides ended up advancing.

In his 100th appearance for his country, striker Abdulla Yusuf was the hero, scoring the only goal of the game on 34 minutes as he beat the offside trap and kept his cool in a one-on-one with the keeper to bury the ball in the corner of the net.

Bahrain should have grabbed a second goal minutes later, only for Mohamed Marhoon to miss a sitter from a mere four meters as he spooned the ball over the bar.

In the end it mattered little as Juan Antonio Pizzi’s side, who only needed a draw to go through, found themselves top of the table after Malaysia’s shock point against hotly favoured south Korea in the other final Group E fixture. Bahrain will next play Japan in the round of 16.

Jordan, who started the day in pole position, ended up as one of the best third-placed teams and will likely meet Iraq or Qatar.

Knowing they had already qualified no matter what unfolded, the Jordanians left four players already on yellow cards on the bench and played with a caution and lack of intensity not seen in their previous two games. When they did get into the final third, lack of quality and killer ball let them down.

As a result, it was not the greatest of spectacles for the fans at Khalifa International Stadium in Doha.

That in a way was to be expected. Matches between these two sides are invariably tight affairs but in their first ever clash at the Asian Cup proper, Bahrain were worthy winners and their goal a thing of beauty as Yusuf beat Jordan’s high line before collecting Ali Madan’s quick-thinking pass and finishing with aplomb.

Both teams made a string of second-half substitutes but as the game drifted towards its conclusion, so the few chances that were on offer at either end dried up.

Not that it will worry either side as both matched their achievement of four years ago by reaching the knockout phase.

Having said that, no-one could surely have predicted that Bahrain would end up as group winners on one of the proudest days in the tiny nation’s footballing history.

Contact the writer of this story at moc.l1713114190labto1713114190ofdlr1713114190owedi1713114190sni@w1713114190ahsra1713114190w.wer1713114190dna1713114190


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