India secure AFC Asian Cup berth with 4-1 win over Macau

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India secure AFC Asian Cup berth with 4-1 win over Macau

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SportsCafe Desk

Last Wednesday at 9:19 PM

Goals from Rowlin Borges, Sunil Chhetri, and Jeje Lalpekhlua made sure that India found their way into the AFC Asian Cup after an absence of eight years. Macau put up a brave fight and even equalized after the first goal but an own goal at the other end put the game outside their reach.

It was India that got off to a flyer as Chhetri's cross in from the right wing and forced Macau to concede the first corner of the day. While the corner was aimed at Anas, it fell kindly for Jhingan, who in turn, blasted into well wide of the post. India kept their foot on the pedal with Chhetri and Das playing a quick one-two but the but the latter's final pass was slightly over hit. India kept the ball well, but Macau were holding steady at the back, and not allowing any sort of penetration through the middle. This resulted in Kotal taking the keeper on from 30-odd yards but the ball sailed harmlessly over the crossbar for a goalkick

As the half progressed, Macau grew in confidence but with the visitors keeping more of the ball, they started leaving gaps in their defence. The Indian skipper was quick to exploit the same as he ran onto a pass and Lao Pak Kin had to bring Chhetri down 25 yards from goal. India got the breakthrough through an unexpected source as Das and Narzary's hard work resulted in the ball falling at the feet of Borges, whose deflected shot wrong footed Ho Man Fai. 

With India in the lead, Macau started upping their tempo, which compounded with some lethargic Indian defending paid off, as Lam Ke Seng's inch perfect cross was headed into the far corner by Nicolas Mario Tarrao to level proceedings on the day. India's final chance of the half fell for Jeje, but the striker, who found himself on the right side of the defender, decided to lay it off for Chhetri who couldn't reach the knock down.

India made a change at half time with Balwant Singh coming on for Jackichand. Both teams failed to create any sort of momentum with chances being created from set pieces. First, Ho Man Fai was forced into a save from a corner before his counterpart did the same at the other end. While the game looked evenly poised, it was India who regained the lead with a rapid counter attack. Jeje found some space in midfield and placed a brilliant through ball for Balwant on the right wing. The substitute showed great awareness and instead of going for goal himself placed the ball on a platter for Chhetri, who had made a run in from the left wing, to put India in front for the second time in the game. India were quick to extend their lead but there was an element of luck involved as Narzary's cross got a deflection off Lam Ka Seng and sailed over the keeper into the far corner. The only negative for India on the day was the injury to Anas, who suffered an injury to his right ankle, and had to be replaced with under 10 mins to go

India had a few more chances of their own, with the best one falling at the feet of Balwant but the substitute failed to test the keeper, putting his shot well wide of the target. But India did get the goal that was the icing on the cake as Chhetri set up Jeje in added time to secure a place in the 2019 Asian Cup.

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