Hosts Bangladesh took a giant step towards the last four of the SAFF Suzuki Cup beating Pakistan 1-0 in the group A match at the Bangabandhu National Stadium on September 6, Thursday.
After two matches, Bangladesh tops the group with six points followed by Pakistan and Nepal who both have three. Bhutan is yet to open their account.
Bangladesh survived a scare in the ninth minute courtesy of custodian Shahidul Alam Sohel who tipped a header of Pakistani forward Muhammed Ali over the crosspiece.
Bangladesh tried to control the midfield with Pakistan adopting their usual counterattacking strategy. However Bangladesh went too much aerial thus losing the grip. Pakistan was cautious using the flanks and their solid back four led by Zesh Rehman hardly provided any additional space for the Bangladesh attackers.
Midway to the first half Bangladesh tasted their first exploration through the Pakistani defence. Masuk Mia Johnny ran down the left flank cutting the ball to Saaduddin who placed the ball wide of the far post
After the resumption both the teams intensified their attacking aspirations with Pakistan coming closer to a strike. Bangladesh defender Tutul Hossain Badshah lost control of the ball to forward Muhammed Ali whose blistering right footer was punched for a corner by Shahidul Alam Sohel.
Pakistan’s physical presence was one of the factor Bangladesh failed to overcome as Mahbubur Rahman Sufil, the lynchpin of Bangladesh attack remained sandwiched by the Pakistani defenders.
Bangladesh defender Topu Barman blasted the ball over from a goal mouth scramble in the 82nd minute following a low corner of Mamunul Islam.
But two minutes later Topu break the deadlock with a opportunistic strike. Bishwanath Ghosh’s typical long throw from the left flank flew into the Pakistani box and took a deflection down the far post where Topu Barman sneaked in to head the ball home past Pakistani goalie Ijaz Butt (1-0)
Bangladesh faces Nepal in their last group fixture on Saturday while Pakistan meets Bhutan also in their last match in the same day.