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Gutsy Indians impress in 2-5 loss

Doha: India produced a dominant performance in the second half but went down fighting 2-5 against Bahrain in their second group match of the Asian Cup on Friday.

India, who lost to Australia 0-4 in their first match on January 10, trailed 1-4 at the breather but rallied strongly in the second half to show that they are no pushovers though there is 51 places difference in the Fifa rankings between the two teams with Bahrain at 93rd.

With this loss, India expectedly were eliminated from the competition though they have one more match — against South Korea on Tuesday.

Bahrain striker Ismaeel Abdul Latif scored the tournament’s first hattrick, finding the target four times in the 16th, 19th, 35th and 77th minutes after Aaish had opened the account in the eighth minute.

For India, Gourmangi Singh and Sunil Chetri scored in the ninth and 51st minute.

In a fast-paced match, India tried to match their more fancied rivals, who missed out the bus for 2010 World Cup in play-off, but a goalkeeper misjudgement and constant pressure from their opponents saw them wilt and trail 1-4 at half time.

Egged on by a vocal 11,052 crowd at the 13,500-capacity stadium, mainly made up of Indians here, they regrouped and were the dominant side with the midfield combining well. Strikers Chetri and Abhishek Yadav, who started in place of Mohammed Rafi, troubled the opposition defence many times.

Chetri, in particular, was in the thick of things though he missed a couple of chances.

Six minutes into the second half, Rennedy, who also got a start on Friday, got the better of his marker and then unleashed a powerful left-footer from the left top edge of the box.

The bullet shot beat the Bahrain goalkeeper but found the bar on its way. Yadav headed in from the rebound only to find the bar again but Chetri had all the time in the world to head home from another rebound.

Television replays, though, showed Rennedy’s shot had already crossed the goalline after hitting the crossbar.

Bahrain’s first goal scorer Faouzi Aatish was sent off by Malaysian referee Mohammed Abdul Razaq after he was booked for the second time in the match for play-acting.

Instead, India conceded a goal against the run of play to widen the margin of loss.

With this win, Bahrain, who lost to South Korea 1-2 in their opening match, stayed in contention for a quarter final berth. Ranked seventh in Asia, Bahrain play Australia on January 18.(Agencies)

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