Doha: Bahrain’s Ismaeel Abdulatif scored a remarkable four goals as his side thrashed India 5-2 here on Friday to stay in contention for an Asian Cup last-eight berth and consign the Indians to elimination.
The 24-year-old forward scored three times in just 19 minutes in a devastating first-half spell, after Faouzi Aaish’s penalty had been cancelled out by India midfielder Gouramangi Singh.
Sunil Chhetri pulled another goal back for India early in the second half, but after Aaish had been sent off, Abdulatif rammed home his fourth goal with 13 minutes remaining to kill off any hopes of an Indian comeback.
Following their narrow 2-1 loss to South Korea, Bahrain’s win moves them to within a point of Group C co-leaders Australia and the Koreans -- who drew 1-1 earlier in the day -- with one match remaining.
Salman Sharida’s side must beat heavyweights Australia in their final group game on Tuesday to reach the quarter-finals, but the Socceroos will require just a point to go through at Bahrain’s expense.
Roared on by an Al Sadd Stadium crowd packed with expats from their homeland, India almost made a stunning start as Chhetri’s first-time volley drew a fine stop from Mahmood Mansoor in the Bahrain goal.
Moments later India were behind, Aaish dispatching a cool penalty -- his second of the tournament -- after he had been scissored by an untidy challenge from India skipper Climax Lawrence inside the area.
India’s response was immediate and within a minute they were level, Singh slicing a shot into the net via the under-side of the crossbar following giant striker Abhishek Yadav’s back-post knockdown.
Bahrain quickly resumed their assault of the Indian goal, however, and Abdulatif’s quick-fire hat-trick saw them establish an unassailable lead.
Goalkeeper Subrata Paul was at fault for Abdulatif’s first, in the 16th minute, as he allowed a cross to bounce off his knee into the path of the Al Hala striker, who prodded into an untended net.
Three minutes later it was 3-1, as Jaycee John broke the offside trap on the left before rolling the ball square for Abdulatif to scuff in his second.
The hat-trick goal arrived 10 minutes before half-time, Abdulatif collecting Aaish’s intelligent dinked pass on his chest and calmly side-footing past the advancing Paul.
Renedy Singh’s rising strike appeared to have crossed the line after bouncing down from the crossbar in the 52nd minute, but after Yadav had also found the bar from close range, Chhetri’s stooping header made sure.
Paul stood up well to prevent Bahrain skipper Salman Isa making it 5-2 on the hour, shortly before Aaish was forced to make his way down the tunnel after receiving a second yellow card for diving.
Each subsequent Indian attack drew huge cheers from their vocal fans, but Abdulatif made sure he had the final say in the 77th minute, weaving past a challenge and cracking a shot into the bottom-left corner from 18 yards.