Football

World Cup Qualifiers | Injury-time goal saves India

Rescue act: Substitute Seiminlen Doungel provided India with a lifeline, outjumping his markers to head one into the far post.

Rescue act: Substitute Seiminlen Doungel provided India with a lifeline, outjumping his markers to head one into the far post.  

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The result meant 106-ranked India remained winless in its qualifying campaign so far

India escaped with a 1-1 draw after an injury-time goal saved it the blushes against lower-ranked Afghanistan in their FIFA World Cup Qualifier match here on Thursday.

The result meant 106-ranked India remained winless in its qualifying campaign so far.

When the visitor seemed headed for its second defeat, substitute Seiminlen Doungel (90+3) provided India with a lifeline, outjumping his markers to head one into the far post.

Afghanistan had taken the lead through Zelfagar Nazary’s strike (45+1), putting India on the backfoot.

India remained at the fourth position in Group E with three points from four matches, while Afghanistan continued to be third with four points.

Starting the away game, being played in extremely cold conditions at the Central Republican Stadium, on a bright note, India conceded a goal in the first half injury time (45+1).

Afghanistan lead came after a fine move saw David Najem play a square ball to Zelfagar Nazary at the centre of the box, and the mid-fielder’s attempt breached the Indian defence before finding the back of the net.

It wasn’t really a home match for Afghanistan either, but wins here against Cambodia and Bangladesh, followed by draws with Tajikistan and Jordan had given it some much-needed confidence ahead of the clash against Igor Stimac’s India.

And the 149-ranked Afghanistan carried that confidence into the game on a chilly evening when the temperature dropped to nine degree Celsius.

India looked to take on the opposition but it could not create any clear chances, and the couple of half chances in the opening minutes failed to test the Afghan custodian.

There was a change straight-away for India after the break as Stimac substituted Mandar with Farukh Choudhary.

The visitor showed urgency and looked desperate for an equaliser. It had a chance in the 58th minute but skipper Sunil Chhetri’s header off a cross from right back Pritam Kotal was saved by Azizi. At the other end, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu made a diving save.

While he will be disappointed to end the match in a stalemate, Stimac’s decision to bring in Doungel in place of Kotal paid dividends.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2020 8:07:38 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/football/wc-qualifiers-injury-time-goal-saves-india/article29975484.ece

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