Pakistan kept their SAFF Suzuki Cup semifinal hopes alive with a precise 3-0 goal victory over Bhutan in the group A match at the Bangabandhu National Stadium on September 8 Saturday.
With the win Pakistan took their tally to six with a goal difference of +3. Their destination will be finalized after the last match of the group between Bangladesh and Nepal who has six and three points each.
Pakistan started firing all cylinders and skipper Saddam Hossain curved a cross at the middle of the box and forward Hassan Bashir powered a head that was punched for a corner in the 10th minute.
Two minutes later forward Muhammad Ali darted down the right flank and cut the ball back to Hassan Bashi whose angular effort whistled past the side post.
Saddam Hossain paved the way for midfielder Muhammad Riaz in the 20th minute with a glancing header anmd riaz shrugging off the challenge of Bhutani defender Rinchen Dorji hit the top of the net from handshaking distance (1-0)
Bhutan reacted instantly with a swift counter attack breaking the Pakistani defence with a precise build up but Chencho Gyaltsen, the Bhutanese forward miscued his right footer from the top of the eight yard box.
Bhutan paid the toll of leaving their defence open in the 30thminute when Hassan Bashir added the second for Pakistan , tracing Hassan alone at the top of the box Muhammed Ali fed him with a pinpoint lob and Hassan placed it past onrushing Bhutanese custodian Ngawang Jumphel (2-0)
Pakistan and Muhammad Riaz was both frustrated in the 41stminute to see Riaz’s fierce side volley on a Saddam Hossain cross ricochet off the crosspiece.
Bhutan tried to return to the game after the resumption with allout attack and midfielder Kencho Tobgay forced Pakistani goalie Yusuf Ijaz Butt to stretch to his limit turning the 20 yarder into a corner in the 48th minute.
Pakistan dropped down to defend the scoreline and Bhutan intensified their attack. However their efforts continued to stop at the edge of the box, The Himalayan nation missed a chance in the 82nd minute with forward Kabi Raj Rai’s glancing header on a Kingay Rabgay cross missed the post by a few inches and two minutes later Chenco’s scorching drive was punched to safety by Yusuf Ijaz Butt.
Pakistan had the last laugh in the second minute of the stoppage time with substitute Ahmed Faheem placing the ball into the near post after Muhammed Ali cut a neat through pass past Bhutani defence (3-0)
Pakistan with six points wait for the outcome of the Bangladesh Nepal match while Bhutan tasted their third defeat in as many matches.