MUSCAT // Kuwait turned Group A into a three-way battle after a 1-0 win over Bahrain in their second match of the 19th Gulf Cup at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex. The result put them level with the leaders Oman on four points with one match remaining in the group phase of the competition, leaving Iraq, the Asian champions, as the first casualty with two defeats. Mesaad Nada struck the only goal of the match from a free kick just outside the box after 28 minutes, and it was enough for Kuwait to hold on bravely until the end. Bahrain, who started with a 3-1 triumph over a nine-man Iraq, now finds themselves needing a win over the host Oman to advance into the next round.
Milan Macala's men dominated the first half, enjoying a major share of the possession and territory, but without a serious threat at the Kuwait goal. They pressed harder for an equaliser in the second half only to be denied by some good work from Nawaf al Khaldi in the Kuwait goal. Al Khaldi made a brilliant save to keep his team's lead by stopping a powerful free kick from Hussain Ali and held on to a close range flick from Abdulla al Dakheel three minutes from time.
He also made some daring collections when Bahrain tested him with the long ball. Bahrain did have an opportunity to cancel the lead but Mohammed Hobail's strike from the top edge of the box went just wide of the right post. Bahrain failed to push the early advantage however, and Kuwait having drawn first blood were content to defend for the rest of the game as the two semifinal slots from the group now boils down to the final group phase matches on Saturday. email@example.com