Unlucky India go down to the hosts U.A.E
by Chirag R Bhattad
Abu Dhabi: Khalifan Mubarak scored for United Arab Emirates in the first half and Ali Ahmed Mabkhout scored on the counter late in the second half to help U.A.E to their first victory of the AFC Asia Cup 2019. Having drawn their first game against Bahrain, the host nations were back on track with a fighting victory.
India played largely on the break in the first half, creating big chances but failing to convert them. Anirudh Thapa swung in a delightful corner in the 8th minute and Sandesh Jhingan had a free header which he failed to convert. The next two chances fell to Ashique who let fly from long range to test the positioning of the opposition goalkeeper in the first attempt.
The second attempt saw Chhetri intercept the ball and send Ashique through, who made a lung busting dribble which lacked the end product. Thapa again fired in a delightful cross and Jhingan again missed a glorious opportunity. All these missed chances came back to haunt India as Khalifan Mubarak scored his first International goal to send the hosts ahead.
In the second half, India constructed a beautiful passing move involving Jeje, a second half substitute, and a one-two between Udanta and Sunil Chhetri saw the former hit the post. But once Majed Hassan was brought on by U.A.E, they shut up shop in the middle of the park, making it difficult for India to sniff out opportunities and knit together passes.
As the game wore on, Indians pushed their midfielders forward looking for the equalizer which resulted in Ali Ahmed Mabkhout scoring a route one counter-attacking goal. In injury-time, India again hit the crossbar, with Sandesh jhingan getting the faintest of touched to a Rowllin Borges free-kick.
India are second in the table with 3 points and a +1 goal difference, while Thailand, who earlier defeated Bahrain 1-0, are third with 3 points as well but a -2 goal difference. India will take on Bahrain in the final group game on the 14th of January.