Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Posted at: Jan 11, 2019, 7:31 AM; last updated: Jan 11, 2019, 7:39 AM (IST)ASIAN CUP

A tale of missed opportunities

India create several chances but fail to convert, UAE walk away with 2-0 victory
A tale of missed opportunities
UAE's forward Ali Mabkhout connects a header even as he's crowded by Indian players during their Asian Cup tie in Abu Dhabi on Thursday. AFP

Abu Dhabi, January 10

India left their scoring boots and luck behind while hosts United Arab Emirates found both after a subdued opener to record a 2-0 win in the AFC Asian Cup here on Thursday. Khalfan Mubarak (41') and Ali Ahmed Mabkhout (88') scored for the home team, entering the game in some desperation after a 1-1 draw with Bahrain in the tournament opener.

UAE moved top of the table in Group A with four points from two matches, while second-placed India still remained in the hunt for a knockout berth with three points from two outings.  India had drubbed Thailand 4-1 on Sunday but the Thais got their campaign back on a track with a 1-0 win over Bahrain in the evening fixture.

Chances galore

India made a positive start in both the halves and created many chances, but paid dearly for lacking the finishing touch.  The Blue Tigers missed three big chances in the first half and while they created opportunities after the break too, India were denied on two occasions by the framework. On expected lines, the UAE enjoyed possession initially but, to the surprise of many, India had more shots at goal and dominated proceedings by keeping the opposition defence busy.

Sandesh Jhingan's free header off a corner by Anirudh Thapa, which was won by Pritam Kotal, went off target. India could have been 1-0 up as early as in the seventh minute. Then, unmarked at the far post, Sunil Chhetri's header was brilliantly saved by UAE custodian Khalid Eisa. 

After the opening draw, UAE required full points, and the relief was palpable in their camp when Mubarak broke the deadlock. The joy, though, would have been short-lived had Chhetri's attempt not missed the target by a whisker in the 43rd minute.

Down by a goal at the break, India were not to be disheartened in the second half. Constantine brought in Jeje Lalpekhlua in and the Mizo forward almost found the net in the 53rd minute. Three minutes later, India again experienced the so-near-yet-so-far moment when Udanta Singh's shot ricocheted off the bar.  — PTI 


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