AFC ASIAN CUP: UAE down India with double salvo

Abu Dhabi, January 10, 2019: Clinical finishing played a key role as UAE grabbed a 2-0 win against India in Group A of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup on Thursday.

The Blue Tigers next play Bahrain in their last match on January 14. India and Thailand have three points from two games while UAE top the group with four points.

India hit the post twice in the second-half and also muffed two good chances in the first. Despite an early scare the hosts scored through Alhamsi and Ali Mabkhout and finished off the game. India, who went all out in the first-half, could have won if it weren’t for the missed chances.

The Blue Tigers surprised UAE with their intensity in attack as plenty of chances came their way. Sandesh Jhingan’s free header went wide in the eight minute — the first real chance for India. UAE custodian Khalid Bilal later pulled off a world-class save to deny Ashique Kuruniyan from close range.

As skipper Sunil Chhetri’s header off Anirudh Thapa’s cross went straight to Bilal in the 23rd minute — it was the end of India’s attacking jaunt. The home team made India pay for their misses as Alhamsi took advantage of a miscommunication in the visitor’s defence and chipped home from a tight angle in the 40th minute.

India had another good scoring chance (after UAE’s defenders fluffed a routine clearance) but Chhetri could only shoot inches wide from a tight angle. The first-half finished 1-0 in UAE’s favor.

Come the second-half and substitute Jeje Lalpekhlua’s long-ranged chip in the 53rd minute was another missed effort for India. Udanta Singh also went close when his shot rattled the bar in the 55th minute. UAE also had their moments as skipper Alhammadi’s shot rattled the post in the 73rd minute. They did have the last laugh when Ali Mabkhout found the back of the net in the 88th minute.

Late in injury time, Jhingan’s header bounced back off the post as India did try to come back but it was in vain.

INDIA: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (GK); Pritam Kotal, Anas Edathodika, Sandesh Jhingan, Subhasish Bose; Udanta Singh (79’ – Jackichand Singh), Pronay Halder, Anirudh Thapa (70’ – Rowllin Borges), Halicharan Narzary (45’ – Jeje Lalpekhlua), Ashique Kuruniyan, Sunil Chhetri (C).

– AIFF MEDIA

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