Pakistan beat bottom team Bhutan by 3-0 to progress into the semifinals of SAFF Suzuki Cup 2018.
Pakistan came into the game knowing they need just three points to advance. Although Bhutan coach and players already gave up the chance of progress, they too had a slight chance mathematically. Bhutan needed a win by six goal margin and has to rely the result of group last game between Bangladesh and Nepal.
Pakistan began the first half strongly looking for an early lead as they threatened Bhutan goal by a free kick effort from more than 40 yards. Hassan Naweed Bashir’s thunderous strike hits the Bhutan wall. And in the 8th minute, Bashir’s header from close range was punched over the bar by Bhutan goalie Ngawang Jamphel. Bashir also tried a long range strike in the 12th minute, and again his strike went wide.
In the 15th minute, Pakistan forward Muhammad Ali had a good chance to take the lead. But his shot from inside the penalty area went into the hands of Bhutan goalkeeper.
Pakistan took the lead in the 20th minute when captain Saddam Hussain found Mohammad Riaz inside the box from a header. Riaz hammered it into the roof of the net from close range. Bhutan best player Chencho Gyeltshen had a decent chance to level right after the Pakistan lead. His left foot strike went across the goal.
Pakistan double the lead in the 28th minute when Muhammad Ali found Hassan Naweed Bashir with a spotless pass over the Bhutan defense line. Bashir smartly put the ball into the net. Riaz came close adding a third in the 40th minute. His half volley from Bashir’s chip pass hits the cross bar as the first half ended 2-0 in favor of Pakistan.
The Dragon boys started the second half with more possession on the ball. But the Pakistan players were physically too strong as they snatched it from them every time. The first chance of the second half came inside 3rd minute when Bhutan midfielder Kencho Tobgay fires a long range left foot strike from thirty yards. His strike was punched away by the Pakistani goalkeeper.
Both played an average game in the second half of the game. Bhutan had a good chance in the 83rd minute to pull one back. Kabi Raj Rai’s header hits the corner of the post from substitute Kingay Rabgay’s well delivered cross and in the 86th minute, Chencho’s strike was punched away for a corner by Pakistan goalkeeper Yousaf Ijaz Butt. Substitute Ahmed Faheem added a third in the stoppage time in to the near post from a descent pass from Muhammad Ali.
The result means, Pakistan are through to the Semifinals. Bangladesh and Nepal will face each other later today for the next spot.