Bangladesh were once again deprived of a win by India when they surrendered a first-half lead to play out a 1-1 draw against the Blue Tigers in the 2022 World Cup qualifying encounter at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata yesterday.
Jamie Day’s charges held their lead, provided by Saad Uddin, for 46 minutes before Adil Khan levelled for India with a powerful header in the 88th minute. It was the third time in a row that Bangladesh were denied of a first win over India in 16 years.
Bangladesh captain Jamal Bhuiyan told Indian journalists on the eve of the match that they were going to break Indian spectators’ hearts and it was the Bangladesh captain who initiated the goal with a brilliant curving shot which beat goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and right-winger Saad Uddin unleashed a clinical leaping header to silence India.
Bangladesh got off to a flying start in front of a near-capacity crowd when left-winger Mohammad Ibrahim darted into the box from the left flank in the first minute before Rahul Bheka tackled him from behind, conceding no more than a corner as Syrian referee Masoud Tufayelieh overlooked a clear foul that would have meant a penalty kick for Bangladesh.
India then started controlling the game, keeping the Bangladesh backline on their toes and Sunil Chhetri came close to taking the lead but his side-volley from inside the box went straight to the gloves of goalkeeper Ashraful Islam Rana in the fourth minute.
The men in red and green kept their feet firmly on the ground and went on the counter in every transition. Yeasin Khan miscued a header off a Jamal corner in the 14th minute before India’s Bheka narrowly missed the target off an Anirudha Thapa corner in the next minute.
Under pressure from India, Yeasin Khan conceded a free-kick from the edge of the box in the 24th minute, but Shahal Abdul Samad failed to convert.
Bangladesh created a chance eight minutes later when Biplu Ahmed, availing a through-pass from Jamal and a fumble from Adil Khan, entered the box and hit a fierce diagonal low ball for Nabib Newaj Jibon, who failed to connect as an Indian defender cleared it for a corner.
Goalkeeper Rana then tipped over a goal-bound header from Manvir Singh before Riyadul Hasan headed a long throw-in from Raihan Hasan wide of the far post in the 37th minute. Five minutes later, Bangladesh got on the board with Saad’s header.
After resumption, India pressed hard for the equaliser but the backline -- marshalled by Yeasin, Riyadul, Raihan and Rahmat Mia – held firm against the hosts, who then twice nearly conceded the second.
In the 51st minute, Biplu sent a defence-splitting through-pass to striker Jibon, who received the ball well to place the far post from the left-hand box, but onrushing goalkeeper Gurpreet saved the day by coming out of the post in the 51st minute. Four minutes later, Ibrahim danced past two Indian defenders to muster a left-footer but the woodwork denied Bangladesh, much to the relief of Gurpreet.
India came close to level the margin on the hour mark but Riyadul Hasan made a goalline save off a header from Anas Edathodika.
Bangladesh once again went close to a second when Jibon, receiving a long ball from Jamal, sent the ball over Gurpreet and towards the goal but defender Adil back-volleyed the ball from goalline.
Jamie Day sent three pairs of fresh legs in place of Raihan, Jibon and Ibrahim to resist the constant attack from India, who worked hard in the attacking third but could not break the backline with Yeasin Khan leading the way.
However, Bangladesh were finally beaten with a powerful header from Adil off a corner from substitute Fernandes in the 88th minute.