Bahrain were rewarded for a never-say-die attitude as substitute Ismail Abdullatif's dramatic injury-time strike secured a 2-2 draw in Saudi Arabia that took them a step closer to the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™- while shattering the hopes of their hosts.
The two sides had played out a goalless draw in the first leg of this play-off contest in Bahrain and it was Saudi Arabia who went ahead early on at the King Fahd International Stadium through Nasser Al Shamrani before Bahrain levelled in the 40th minute through Jaycee John.
It looked as though the visitors would hold firm for the draw that would be enough to send them through on away goals until Hamad Al-Montashari struck in injury time to seemingly secure the win for Saudi Arabia. However, incredibly, Abdullatif replied straight away to ensure it is Bahrain who will tackle New Zealand in another two-legged play-off for a place at next year's FIFA World Cup.
The home side took the lead in the 12th minute following a fine move that carved open the Bahrain defence. Yasser Al Qahtani played the ball for Mohammed Noor, whose first-time pass fell into the path of Al Shamrani and he shrugged off the attention of a defender to sweep home.
Bahrain drew level five minutes before the break when Abdulla Omar broke inside the area and fed a pass across the face of goal where John had the simple task of putting the ball into the net from close range.
However, it appeared that Saudi Arabia had done enough to snatch the win when in stoppage time Al Qahtani successfully kept the ball in play at the edge of the area, hooking a cross back into the area where Al-Montashari was on hand to power a header into the back of the net.
But the home fans' hearts were broken soon after when Abdullatif headed home Salman Isa's corner to send Bahrain through.