Bahrain win thrilling shootout to reach final

  • 8 months   ago
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Bahraini players celebrate after winning the first semi-final of the 24th Arabian Gulf Cup against Iraq at the Abdullah Bin Khalifa Stadium, in Doha, yesterday.

Bahrain, aiming to win their maiden Arabian Gulf Cup title, defeated Iraq 5-3 in a tense semi-final penalty shootout to make it to final for the fifth time.

Yesterday at the Abdullah Bin Khalifa Stadium, the teams were locked two-all at the end of full time play, all of which came in the first half.

The 30 minutes of extra time play also ended in a two-all deadlock forcing a penalty shot out.

In the shoot-out, substitute Mohamed Majid sent Iraq’s fourth penalty kick wide off the mark while Ali Madan converted Bahrain’s fifth one to take his team to the title clash.

Bahrain will take on Saudi Arabia who beat hosts Qatar 1-0 in the other semi-final later at the Al Janoub stadium.

Iraq made seven changes from the side which took the field against Yemen in the last group league match.

Coach Sercko Katanec’s side held the upper hand right from kick off and were dominant in launching several attacks against Bahrain.

With a large of supporters to back them in the stands, Iraq did not waste time to settle down. After launching a few forays into the rival half, Iraq one of the few sides which has impressed with their attacking game stuck in the sixth minute.

Mohannad Ali gave the lead for Iraq through a set piece conversion.

Ali latched on to a rebound which came off Bahrain keeper Sayed Hashem’s chest as he could not hold on to the brilliantly executed free kick of Alaa Al Gharrawi and Ali darted the ball past a helpless Hashem, 1-0.
Iraq continued to dominate and gave its supporters a lot to cheer.

They used the entire width of the pitch to spray passes and create open spaces in the heart of the Bahraini defense.

On the other hand, Bahrain played the waiting game and were contend in getting back into the Iraq territory through break back moves.

Bahraini defense which repulsed quite a few Iraqi attacks managed to pull one back much against the run of play through one such counter attack which earned them a flag kick.

Mohamed Marhoon, who was entrusted with flag kick, gave a shot pass to Mohamed Shaban, the last named essayed a left footed floater catching Bahrain defense on the wrong foot. An unchallenged Abdulla Alhazaa leapt high to head home past Iraq keeper Ahmed Khalaf, 1-1 in the 14th minute.

Iraq did not allow the equaliser to demoralise them and instead stepped up the tempo and managed to again the lead three minutes later.

Iraqi strikers, who at times caught the Bahraini defense on the wrong foot, struck through a move initiated by Amjed Al Magsoosi.

A long ball from Magossi from the centre line found Ibrahim Al Kaabawi in the clear, who beat his defender and chipped the ball over the advancing keeper to give Iraq the lead for the second time in the match.

Thereafter, both the teams came up with threatening moves but could not trouble the scorers.

Bahrain, however struck on the goal front at the stroke of half time.

Bahrain’s second equaliser came in almost similar circumstances to Iraq’s second goal.

Defender Ahmed Bughammar long free kick from his own half found Mohamed Marhoon chesting the high ball and bringing it down at an ideal height to volley home past a helpless Iraqi goalkeeper.

If the first half produced four goals, there were none in the second half.

Bahrain started the first proceedings in a superb fashion. Shaban got enough elevation and power behind his free kick but Iraq keeper stood his ground to keep his goal intact.

Thereafter, both the teams created opening but could not come close to scoring.

Coaches of both the teams ringed in a couple of substitutions in the second session but it did not make much of a difference on the goal front.

The teams were  thus tied a two-all at the end of 90 minutes of regular period forcing an extra period of 15 minutes each.

In extra time, Iraq had two opportunities to take the issue in their hands. On the first occasion, Al Kaabawi failed to beat the goalkeeper in the third minute of extra time and in the eight minute substitute Shareef Al Amari did everything right to beat his marker but ended shooting wide.

At the other end, Iraq goalkeeper Khalaf came out of the blue save to keep out a goal threatening shot from Marhoon in the tenth minute of extra time.

The second half of extra time also ended without the deadlock been resolved forcing a penalty shout out.