India tricked past Myanmar in their first qualifier of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup in Yangon with a goal from Sunil Chhetri proved to be the ultimate decider. This victory came for the first time in 64 years when India defeated Myanmar on their home soil.
After a narrow 3-2 victory over Cambodia, in a friendly, India were high on confidence and a positive result was expected out of the game, and the players duly delivered what was promised. The visitors started off with two strikers, namely, Robin Singh and Jeje Lalpekhlua with Jakichand Singh and Sunil Chhetri operating the flanks, while a central midfield partnership of Lyngdoh and Borges was the driving force in the fixture.
Chances were far and between for either of them, but both failed to reap the fruits. India, in particular, tried to play some long balls with Robin Singh being their target man but were failing to test Myanmar’s stopper at the helm. The host, on the other hand, had a perfect chance to take the lead, however, Kyaw Ko’s final pass failed to reach the target man.
Soon after Myanmar’s miss, India were handed an absolute sitter when skipper Sunil Chhetri found Jackichand unmarked just 2-3 yards off the post, but the 25-year-old fired the ball over the roof of the post.
— football news india (@fni) March 28, 2017
Both the teams went into the dressing room with scores tied and nil and nil, and soon after the restart, the home side started showing their intent. 24-year-old striker Kyaw Ko made a drafting run into the channel, but unfortunately for him, his shot just missed the target.
The visitors were getting outnumbered completely at one point of time, but the Indian defence was quite solid to minimize their effect. However, the host were enjoying a majority of the possession and India were quite happy with their occasional counter attacks. In the midst of this, skipper Sunil Chhetri put substitute Udanta Singh through on goal but was unfortunately brought down by a Myanmar defender and the official waved game on. The replays, however, suggested that it was a clear foul on Singh.
The visitors took the reigns in their hand in the final 10 minutes of the game but were unable to find a splitting moment. Myanmar, on their part, were again handed a golden opportunity but Kyaw Ko missed a free header.
As soon as it was thought that the game would end as a stalemate, Sunil Chhetri produced a captain-like moment as he scored a stoppage-time winner to hand his side a crucial win. The 32-year-old allowed Udanta Singh to made a fine run on the flank. The 20-year-old attacker then found unmarked Chhetri – who made a late run into the box – and the skipper finished the game with a thumping right-foot finish.
And finally, the irony of that goal – Sunil Chhetri equals the national record of England’s Wayne Rooney, as this strike against Myanmar was his 53rd goal.