DOHA: Thiago Augusto turned out to be hero for Bahrain with a double strike as they dumped Kuwait out of the 24th Arab Gulf Cup with a determined 4-2 win in their last Group B match here at the Khalifa International Stadium on Monday.
Bahrain has never won a title since they hosted the inaugural tournament in 1970, and the victory against the 10-time winners would certainly boost their confidence in the semifinals against Iraq on Thursday (December 5).
Bahrain finished second in Group B behind Saudia Arabia with four points, same as Oman. But a better goal difference helped them outpace the defending champions for a place in the semis.
In the match, where the team's fortune changed in blink of an eye, Ali Jafar Madan gave Bahrain the lead in the stoppage time of first half.
Kuwait levelled after Yousef Nasser converted a penalty in the 59th minute following an infringement on Redha Abujafarah by Jasim Ahmed.
There was a bit of disappointment in the Kuwait camp when Yousef and his team thought they had equalized in the 64th minute. But upon a VAR review the goal was overruled as the player had committed a foul.
Five minutes later, Jassim Al Shaikh restored Bahrain’s lead in the 69th with an effort from top of the box, and that seemed to have galvanized their attack with Thiago grabbing all the attention with his clinical finishes.
The Brazilian-born striker produced a stunning run to connect a pass from Al Shaikh that increased the lead in the 83rd.
But two minutes later Ahmed Zanki ensured Kuwait stayed in the match with a close finish as Bahrain defenders made a last ditch effort to chase him down.
Thiago ensured there were no more damages done by scoring his second and team’s fourth goal in the 93rd minute.
He punished a leaky Kuwaiti defence with an opportunistic goal, this time a left-footed shot that beat the goalkeeper.
Follow Mohammad Aminul Islam on Twitter: @mdamins