Tournament’s top seed and holders Palestine reached the semifinal of the ongoing six-team Bangabandhu International Gold Cup Football Tournament 2020 with all-win record.
Late goals from captain cum midfielder Mahmoud Abuwarda and forward Khaled Salem helped Palestine to rout Sri Lanka by 2-0 goals in their thrilling last group match at the Bangabandhu National Stadium here on Friday.
Both Sri Lanka and hosts Bangladesh conceded 0-2 goals defeat against Palestine. To confirm their spot in the semifinals, Bangladesh now have to beat Sri Lanka in their second and last group match on Sunday at the same venue.
In the day’s match, Palestine put pressure on the Sri Lanka with their attacking football. But Sri Lankan defenders and goalkeeper Herath Arunasiri ruined all of their attempts initially.
Arunasiri smartly denied several close-range shots from Palestine midfielders Mohamed Darwish, Dawoud Iraqi and forwards Mosab Abusalem, Reebal Dahamshi throughout the game.
Palestine finally got the relief while captain Mahmoud Abuwarda sent the ball home with an eye-catching header from a cross of midfielder Sameh Maraaba in the stoppage time (92nd minute) (1-0).
Sri Lanka, who had been maintaining a compact defensive approach from the beginning, came alive after conceding goal and took a chance to level the margin.
But Palestine forward Khaled Salem doubled the margin with a grounder shot, off a through pass by midfielder Dawoud Iraqi from a cleaver counter-attack just few seconds before the final whistle (95th minute) (2-0).
Palestine defender Thaer Jaboor got a yellow card.