A penalty save from captain and goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, and Rahul Bheke’s first international goal couldn’t prevent Bahrain beating India 2-1 in an international friendly played at the Sheikh Ali Bin Mohamed Stadium in Manama City on Wednesday.

Goals from Mohqmed Hardan and Mahdi Humaidan in either half sealed it for Bahrain, even as Bheke’s powerful header – his first international goal - had helped India restore parity in the 56th minute.

The match saw five Indians make their international debuts, as head coach Igor Stimac fielded VP Suhair and Danish Farooq in the starting line-up, while Roshan Singh, Aniket Jadhav and Anwar Ali came on as second-half substitutes.

Bahrain started the match confidently and were rewarded with a penalty in the sixth minute when Mohamed Marhoon’s shot hit Sandesh Jhingan’s hand at the edge of the 18-yard box. But Sandhu anticipated correctly, diving down to his left to palm off Mahdi Humaidan’s penalty.

On the 16th minute, the Bahrain forward line, playing it quick among themselves, broke free but Mahroon’s shot crashed off the bar. The rebound did fall to an unmarked Humaidan but in his haste, he smashed it over.

India had their first shot of the match a few minutes later as Manvir Singh met Rahim Ali’s cross but headed off target.

India earned their first corner in the 29th minute when Colaco, taking down a long ball from Jhingan, sped down the left flank past his marker only for the rival defence to intercept his cross, and clear it for a corner. Two minutes later, Rahim Ali was brought down as India earned a free-kick in the rival half. But the visitors were unable to create much impact from either attempt.

The Blue Tigers survived a scare in the 35th minute when Marhoon squared it to Humaidan, who laid it for Komail Alaswad who failed to hit the target.

The miss didn’t prove too costly for Bahrain as they surged into the lead the very next minute. Mahroon took his time and floated it into the box for Mohqmed Hardan to volley it in, as the hosts headed into the interval with a solitary goal lead.

Changing over, Stimac brought in debutant Roshan Singh in place of Colaco, and he almost scored with his first touch in international football as he tried to meet Rahim’s cross on the half-volley.

India earned a corner on the 56th minute mark, and it brought the equaliser. The corner was played short, and Roshan floated it viciously behind the rival defence and the goalkeeper for Bheke to head home.

With India having started off the blocks faster in the second-half, Bahrain in their attempt to pull it back played an aerial ball to Humaidan inside the box. But even as he tried to meet it, the ball stayed out of his reach.

A double substitution came in the 79th minute – Yasir Mohammad, and Jadhav coming in for Danish and Rahim respectively.

The match-winner came as late as the 88th minute - Humaidan making amends for his penalty miss to win it for Bahrain when he ran onto a cross from the right to score.

India next plays Belarus on Saturday, the last match in the two-game international friendlies series they’ve travelled to Bahrain for.

Final score:

Bahrain 2 (Mohqmed Hardan 37’, Mahdi Humaidan 88’) beat India 1 (Rahul Bheke 59’)