Versatile winger Saad Uddin broke the hearts of more than 70,000 spectators by giving Bangladesh the lead with a glancing header just three minutes before the first half whistle, but India defender Adil Khan’s electric header brought parity two minutes before the end of stipulated time
An impressive performance by the visiting side held the breath of thousands of home fans for most of the time before a late equalizer ended India-Bangladesh’s first match after five years in an entertaining 1-1 draw in the 2022 World Cup and Asian Cup joint qualifiers at Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata Tuesday.
Versatile winger Saad Uddin broke the hearts of more than 70,000 spectators by giving Bangladesh the lead with a glancing header just three minutes before the first half whistle, but India defender Adil Khan’s electric header brought parity two minutes before the end of stipulated time.
Perhaps against all the expectations, Bangladesh’s attacking front led by Mohammad Ibrahim and Nabib Newaj Jibon gave no rest to the Indian defence, creating at least three brilliant chances, apart from the goal, in the either side of each half, while the defence also stood solid to stop the threats of Sunil Chhetri and Co.
Skipper Jamal Bhuiyan delivered a precise free-kick from the left side that was out of reach of the fully-stretched in-form Indian custodian Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, and Saad made no mistake heading home into the near post.
With Saad’s strike, Bangladesh ended their goal drought in the second round of World Cup qualifiers, their last goal coming against Tajikistan during the 1-1 draw on June 16, 2015.
Bangladesh have also not drawn a game in the same stage since then.
It was the first international goal for Saad, who has been a regular and reliable pick of Jamie Day since he took charge.
The 21-year old made his senior team debut during the Saff Championship in Dhaka last year, prior to which he put in a brilliant performance for the Olympic (U-23) team in the Asian Games in Indonesia the previous month.
Day kept the starting XI unchanged that fought bravely against Qatar last week.
India made three changes from their heroic draw against Qatar last month with star striker Chhetri, Kuruniyan and Edathodika making their return in place of Nikhil Poojari, suspended Rowlin Borges and injured defender Sandesh Jhingan.
The visitor were off to a positive start and gave the home side tough times to hold onto possession.
They earned two corners and Ibrahim broke into the penalty area twice within the quarter-hour mark, but the Indian defence stood tall on each occasion.
Ibrahim looked dangerous through the left flank while Saad started on the right wing, but the latter was seen all over the flanks, defending and attacking.
Biplo Ahmed created the first real chance in the 31st minute when he broke into the right side of the box but his cross saw Gurpreet make an easy save.
India found it hard to break the Bangladesh defence led by in-form Yeasin Khan, who played with a bandage on his forehead.
India’s only chance in the first half came four minutes later when forward Manvir Singh’s backheader was tipped away by Bangladesh keeper Ashraful Islam Rana for a corner.
The men in red and green started the second half with more confidence and Jibon could have doubled the lead in the 51st minute after a defence-splitting through pass by Ibrahim set him in a vantage position at the top of the box, but the Abahani striker’s shot was saved by an alert Gurpreet.
Ibrahim perhaps enjoyed one of his best performances, leaving his mark in defence as well as the Bashundhara Kings winger made a headed clearance from goal-line at the hour mark.
Jibon got another big chance in the 73rd minute but the 29-year old was unfortunate this time around as his chip managed to beat the onrushing Gurpreet, but tall India defender Adil produced a goalline clearance to keep their hope intact.
Day used all his three substitutions, bringing in Mahbubur Rahman Sufil, Robiul Hasan and Bishwanath Ghosh before Jamal was stretched off with an injury.
The home side went all out for the equalizer with captain Chhetri leading the way, but it was eventually Adil who leveled the margin in the 88th minute, heading home a corner from substitute midfielder Brendon Fernandes.
Bangladesh, who earned their first point in three matches, will play away against Oman in their fourth Group E match on November 14.
Bangladesh XI: Ashraful Islam Rana; Rahmat Mia, Yeasin Khan, Riyadul Hasan, Rayhan Hasan (Bishwanath Ghosh 72’); Jamal Bhuiyan, Sohel Rana, Biplo Ahmed, Mohammad Ibrahim (Robiul Hasan 79’), Saad Uddin; Nabib Newaj Jibon (Mahbubur Rahman Sufil 78’).
India 1 (Adil 88) 1 Bangladesh (Saad 42)