Wed, Oct 11, 2017 - Page 16 News List

Taiwan rally to win thriller 2-1

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Onur Dogan, top center, heads the winning goal against Bahrain in their Asian Cup qualifier at the Taipei Municipal Stadium yesterday.

Photo: Lin Cheng-kung, Taipei Times

Taiwan yesterday fought back in dramatic fashion by scoring two late goals, with the winner deep in stoppage-time, to beat Bahrain in their Asian Cup qualifier and set off a prolonged celebration at the Taipei Municipal Stadium.

Belgian-Taiwanese player Xavier Chen provided the inspiration to lift the team, helping new English manager Gary White to his first win in a competitive international.

Suffering a chronic injury, Chen had said before the match that he wanted the team to play well and get a good result because, win or lose, it was likely to be his last game for Taiwan as he plans to retire.

It set the stage for an emotional evening in front of a crowd of more than 8,000, many of them wanting to bid farewell to Chen.

Both sides attacked early on, but it was the visitors who capitalized on a chance in the 17th minute.

Bahrain striker Madhi Abdul-Jabbar took the ball to the bye-line, before attempting to get past Hsieh Po-an, who put his hands up and brushed his opponent, who fell down inside the area.

Japanese referee Hiroyuki Kimura pointed to the spot, with the hosts vehemently protesting to no avail.

Bahrain captain Ismaeel Abdulatif duly fired into the net to put the visitors in front.

Taiwan continued to create chances in attack, while some outstanding saves by goalkeeper Pan Wen-chieh kept the visitors at bay until halftime.

In the second half, Taiwan’s three-pronged attack of Chen Hao-wei, Yu Chia-huang and Onur Dogan created some good opportunities, but remained frustrated.

As the clock wound down, the hosts desperately searched for an equalizer, but kept missing their chances.

Then in the 89th minute Xavier Chen got the ball and his pass into the penalty area found attacking midfielder Chen Po-liang, who slotted home the equalizer.

In stoppage-time midfielder Chen Yi-wen got past the defense on the left and crossed into the area for Dogan to head the winner, sending the fans into delirious National Day celebrations.

The rare come-from-behind win moved Taiwan into second place in Group E, a point behind Bahrain.

“The players were all warriors today, they were fantastic. We needed this great result to turn it around for Taiwanese football,” White said.

Chen Po-liang credited Xavier Chen for leading a robust defense and keeping the team in the match, as well for the pass that allowed him to score the equalizer, adding that the players and coaches all want him to reconsider his plan to retire.

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