Football: Oman made to work in 4-2 win over Bhutan in Asian Cup qualifier
November 14, 2017 | 8:53 PM
by AFC
Oman's Sami Al Hasani, centre, controls the ball during their Asian Cup Group D qualifying game against Bhutan in Thimphu on Tuesday. Photo - AFC

Thimphu: Oman kept their hopes of first place in Group D of the qualifying rounds for the 2019 Asian Cup alive on Tuesday evening as Pim Verbeek’s side eventually saw off Bhutan to pick up a 4-2 win.

The victory moves Oman on to 12 points from five games and they are due to face group leaders Palestine on Matchday Six in March next year, when a win by a two-goal margin would be enough for the Sultanate squad to claim first place.

Palestine, who have already qualified for the Asian Cup along with Oman, currently occupy the top spot in Group D with 15 points thanks to their 8-1 win over Maldives at home on Tuesday.

Verbeek’s team were made to work for the three points by Bhutan, however, and, after a goalless first half, the visitors took the lead when Sami Al Hassani headed home at the near post just three minutes after the restart.

Bhutan, though, stunned Oman just 11 minutes later when Chencho Gyeltshen led his team on a counter-attack before laying the ball off to Karma Shedrup Tshering and his shot from outside the area slipped under goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi.

With 15 minutes remaining Oman reclaimed the lead when Raed Ibrahim Saleh’s right-foot shot from outside the area beat goalkeeper Hari Gurung and finally Verbeek’s team assumed control.

In the 85th minute they increased their lead when Khalid Al Hajri bundled the ball over the line from close range before Said Al Ruzaiqi added his side’s fourth a minute before the end of regulation time with another close-range effort.

The goal of the night, though, came from the home side in injury time when Chencho struck from long range after a free-kick was tapped in his direction and his low strike gave veteran goalkeeper Al Habsi little chance.

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