Bahrain lifted a first-ever Gulf Cup on Sunday evening, following a 1-0 victory over Saudi Arabia. The Pearldivers scored on the counter in the second half through Mohamed Al Romaihi and held on to win the tournament against the odds.
Salem Al-Dawsari smashed the woodwork with the game just three minutes old, as Saudi looked to strike an early blow. A curling strike had Sayed Mohammed Jaffer well beaten, but the post denied the Al Hilal winger, who missed out on the semi-final win over hosts Qatar.
Al-Dawsari was at his lively best and quickly handed the Green Falcons a chance to take the lead. A surging run into the box was halted by Bahrain midfielder Mahdi Al-Humaidan, leaving the referee little choice to point to the spot.
Salman Al-Faraj stepped up and missed the penalty, clipping the shot wide and clipping the upright of the and eventually clipping the post.
Bahrain was eager to make amends and Al-Humaidan found himself at the centre of the action with two clear chances to push his side into the lead. Cutting in from the left-wing, his drilled shot was gathered by Saudi keeper Fawaz Al-Qarni. Whilst a flicked header at the near post from the winger was tipped over the bar. A clear signal of intent from Hélio Sousa’s side.
Saudi thought they had a second penalty of the evening when Abdullah Al-Hamdan was pulled down in the penalty box. After a quick VAR review, the spot-kick was ruled out. The first half ended 0-0.
For all their dominance in the second half, Saudi failed to trouble the Bahrain goal. Salem Al-Dawsari, again guilty of spurning a number of chances to open the scoring.
With the score at 0-0, you always felt that the pearl divers had a chance to score and the introduction of Thiago Augusto proved to be the turning point for the side. The Brazilian born attacker caused the Saudi backline plenty of problems.
Bahrain forward Mohamed Al Romaihi was receiving more of the ball and making an impact for his side. On a foray forward, Romaihi kept the ball in play before smashing a shot against the post which had Fawaz Al-Qarni.
It was only a matter of time before Bahrain made a breakthrough with their two best players linking up to devastating effect. Mahdi Al-Humaidan slid in a perfect ball toward the goal, Al Rumathi got ahead of his marker to guide in Al-Humaidan’s cross to hand his side a vital lead, and their first-ever Gulf Cup.