World Cup Qualifier as it happened: Oman hang on to 2-1 win despite Chhetri stunner

India went down 1-2 to Oman in their opening Group D fixture of the 2018 World Cup and 2019 Asian Cup joint qualifier at the Kanteerava Stadium, Bangalore.

An early goal was scored by Qasim Said in the opening minute when Indian defenders were still warming up to the game. Then a needless tackle inside the box saw the hosts concede a penalty which was dispatched by Imad Al Hosni in teh 40th minute as the Indians paid the price for a lack of concentration. Sandwiched in between the two Omani strikes was a gem of a goal by Sunil Chhetri midway through the first half.

India did manage to put the ball into the back of the net in the second half as well but it was deemed offside with Robin Singh said to be interfering with play.

Stephen Constantine made six changes, namely Dhanachandra Singh, Sehnaj Singh, Rino Anto, CK Vineeth, Lalcchuammawia Fanai and Jackichand Singh from the last game against Nepal. Four of the above mentioned players were handed debuts by the Englishman.

It didn’t take too long for the visitors to break the deadlock as they scored within the opening 25 seconds. The very first attack saw Qasim Said being allowed way too much space by Rino Anto as the Oman striker slotted it through the legs of Subrata Paul in goal.

Oman started the game with great verve and their task was made easier with too much space being afforded to them.

The 10th minute saw Paul being called into action as Mohsin Al Khaldi looked to go for the far corner from a free-kick down the left but the Indian custodian did well to tip it behind for a corner.

Four minutes later, Arnab’s scuffed interception allowed Al Hosni to pick up the pieces and slide the ball across goal. Qasim Said‘s effort just missed the far corner as the Indian defense failed to track the Oman striker.

The visitors should have doubled the lead when Eid Mohammed and Al Khaldi combined from the right. Khaldi’s cross into the box was just about kept out by Fanai at the far post.

Eid Al-Farsi and Ahmed Mubarak were running the show for the Reds as they dictated play from the middle of the park.

However, India equalized against the run of play in the 26th minute. Anto’s throw-in from the right saw Chhetri cut in and let rip a fierce left footed shot which struck the far post and went in.

Thereafter, India began to play with confidence and had a couple of half chances for Arnab Mondal and Robin Singh. Vineeth made a fantastic run down the right and crossed for Robin but Al Habsi came off his line to collect.

In the 38th minute, the Indian defense couldn’t track the run of Al-Farsi and the Oman midfielder was allowed space to move into the box. Dhanachandra Singh was guilty of tripping the attacker and referee Ko Hyung Jin had little hesitation in pointing to the spot.

Emad Al Hosni smashed in the spot kick with Paul going the other way to give the visitors the lead once again.

Aziz Al-Muqbali was booked for a dive inside the box as the striker was closed down by Dhanachandra who cleared without getting a touch on the Oman striker as the away side went into the break with a 1-2 lead.

Oman once again started the better of the two sides as Said eased past Sehnaj Singh’s tackle. With the Indian defenders backing off, he shot from 20 yards or so as the ball went inches wide.

Jackichand evaded a couple of defenders on the right before switching play to find Vineeth on the opposite flank. The Bengaluru FC attacker waited for a few seconds in indecision before shooting way off target.

The Royal Wahingdoh attacker was once again in the thick of the action as he sent a peach of a through ball for Robin down the right. An alert Mohammed Al-Maqbali closed down the striker who was beaten for pace, only winning a corner in the bargain.

Said continued to haunt the Indian defense as he got past Anto to square it for Ahmed Mubarak who smashed tha ball over the bar in the 51st minute.

Oman were guilty of wasting the chances that came their way. Al-Maqbali was in a good position to shoot but instead, pulled it back for a teammate. Following a couple of poor clearances, the ball fell for Mohsin Al Khaldi whose shot from the edge of the box went inches over.

Dhanachandra Singh made a couple of crucial interceptions to deny Al-Maqbali with the Oman striker taking up good positions inside the Indian box.

There was a moment of controversy in the 67th minute. From a shot corner-kick, Lyngdoh played the ball for Ganesh whose first-time pass for Vineeth saw the latter cross it inside the box. The ball took a touch of Sallam Al Mukhaini and went into the back of the net. However, the linesman raised his flag as he deemed Robin Singh in an offside position.

Thereafter, Oman controlled possession and slowed the pace of the game.

Anto was once again guilty as his back-pass to Al-Maqbali saw the Oman forward almost get through on goal before Dhanachandra did well to block.

In stoppage time, Arnab Mondal sent in a long ball which saw Chhetri through on goal. The Indian vice-captain miss-kicked his effort and the ball went out of play under no pressure whatsoever. While the Indians appealed for a penalty, referee Ko Hyung rightly didn’t point to the spot.

The score-line remained the same until the end as Oman bagged three crucial points in their first Group D game. India will be encouraged by their display and look to do well against Guam next on June 16th, 2015

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