Gutsy Guam tame Blue Tigers

India’s hopes of making it to the 2018 FIFA World Cup were all but ended when they slumped to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of a buoyant Guam side who registered their 2nd win of the Asian World Cup Qualifiers for the 2018 FIFA World Cup after beating Turkmesnistan in the previous game.

The hosts made a bright start to proceedings, by seizing control of the possession in midfield and forced an early booking, which saw Eugenson Lyghdoh go into the referee’s book. But a minute later, he produced a lovely lofted pass in space ahead of C.K. Vineeth who latched onto it to fire a shot which was blocked by MLS defender De La Graza.

India’s defence was stretched in the 16th minute thanks to a burst of pace on the right flank by Malcolm who cut it back to Brandon McDonald after some trickery, but the towering midfielder could only fire it over the target.

The hosts were in rampant mood, forcing India to sit back, nearly opened up the visitors when another fine down India’s left flank saw Alexander Lee overlap to pick out Ryan Guy whose effort went inches wide of the far post. It was the best chance of the game and warning bells were ringing in the Indian camp.

The pressure grew on in the Indian rearguard post the half hour mark when Arnab Mondal and Dhahachandra Singh had to be on their toes to clear for a throw-in before Travis Nicklaw got his shot away.

Nicklaw was in the thich of the things yet again in the 33rd minute when he missed a golden opportunity to put Guam in the lead when Alex Lee bypassed the Indian defence to pick out Malcolm on the flanks with a superb lofted pass before Malcolm sent in a delicious cross for Travis Nicklaw who fired into the side netting.

But Guam did not have to wait too long to get the breakthrough, as the Indian defence were caught flat footed when a long throw-in from Ryan Guy was headed home by Brandon McDonald to finish off a training ground move.

India were right under the cosh before half time and somehow managed to keep themsleves just a goal behind Guam at half time.

Stephen Contsantine made a double change at half time when he replaced Eugenson Lyngdoh and Sehnaj Singh with Dhanpal Ganeshan and Calvin Lobo.

Calvin Lobo looked bright after coming on and created Indian’s first effort of the second half as he blasted his effort wide after a neat one-two with Chhetri saw him in space to conjure up the shot in the 52nd minute.

But the hosts regained control of the game and should have doubled their lead in the 56th minute when Travis Nicklaw sent a free header from a Malcolm cross over the crossbar.

But the striker made up for his miss nine minutes later, when he fired past a helpless Subrata Paul after latching onto a long pass and quite easily turning past Arnab Mondal and size his effort into the back of the net to double Guam’s lead.

The shell-shocked visitors tried to hit back with some long range efforts from the likes of Calvin Lobo, but the Guam goalkeeper hardly had to break a sweat as the shots lacked accuracy.

His opposite number Subrata Paul though, had to be on top of his game to deny Travis Nicklaw in the 75th who raced clear of the Indian backline. Subrata Paul came off his line and got a hand to his effort before making the clearance.

India who got desperate by every passing minute had a good chance to set a up a grand stand finish but under fire striker Robin Singh could only head a Rino Anto cross wide. At the other end, Guam almost got a third when Cunliffe broke free to set up substitute Mariano who dragged his shot wide with five minutes to play.

Rino Anto was the only bright spot in the Indian side as yet another fine cross into the box turned out to be fruitless as Robin Singh and substitute Jeje collided with both going for the ball.

Sunil Chhetri bagged India a consolation in the 93rd minute when he finally converted a Rino Anto cross after leaping the highest to meet it and score past the Guam goalkeeper.

But the visitors had no time to steal an unlikely point as referee blew for full time almost immediately after Chhteri’s goal.

Guam claimed yet another scalp after beating Turkmenistan in their earlier game as India succumbed to their second successive defeat after a toothless show on the Pacific Island.

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