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Arif hat-trick helps Pakistan bulldoze Bhutan 7-0

December 09, 2009

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Pakistan recorded the second biggest win in the entire history of the SAFF Championship. — File Photo by APP
LAHORE Pakistan thrashed last year's semi-finalist Bhutan 7-0 in the Group 'B' clash of the 8th SAFF Championship at Dhakas Bangabandhu National Stadium on Tuesday.

Pakistan, who also beat Bhutan 2-1 in their first meeting at Dasharath Stadium, Kathmandu, during the South Asian Games in 1999, recorded the second biggest win in the entire history of the SAFF Championship after Maldives 9-1 win against Afghanistan in Karachi on Dec 7 in 2005.

According to the information received here, Mohammad Essa-led Pakistan opened the mission in offensive style by getting a corner in the second minute but Essa's powerful shot was parried away by keeper Tenzi. Essa came close again in the fifth minute but his free-kick failed to yield a goal.

Requiring a 5-0 win against Bhutan in order to pressurize Bangladesh, Pakistan opened the scoring in the 21st minute when Essa utilised the gap created after fine work from Arif Mahmood and Amjad Iqbal. Two minutes later, another British-based player Reis Ashraf came into action to score his first-ever international goal in order to make the score 2-0.

Born at Newport Pagnell, England, the 20-year-old Reis from Leamington FC, punished a defensive blunder by Bhutan's skipper Pema and the Multan-born Arif Mahmood dashed through the middle to fire the ball into the back of the net.

Pakistan's frontrunners and midfielders completely dominated their opponents and the score line was 4-0 in the 36th minute. A collision between Bhutans keeper and Essa allowed Arif to score his second goal in the 36th minute.

Another British recruit Shabir Khan, a defender for Worcester City, made it 5-0 with a fierce close-range drive on the stroke of interval.

The second session began with Bhutan replacing their keeper Tenzin with Tshering Dhendup. But Dhendup, too, was a beaten man in the 53rd minute when he violated rules by collecting a back pass with his hands and Essa made no mistake in driving the ball in. Despite getting six goals, Pakistan went looking for more.

Arif completed the rout when his sparkling 66th minute goal brought the score to 7-0. Arif thus completed a well-deserved hat-trick, the seventh in the history of the event.Wednesday's fixtures Afghanistan v Nepal at 2.00pm; Maldives v India at 4.45pm.