India Sabotaged Thailand In Their Group A Opener

Rohit Ganguly  |  Asian Cup  |  2 Months Ago

In a historic day for Indian football, India registered their first victory in Asian Cup, since their best ever finish in the elite tournament of Asia in 1964, where they concluded the campaign as runners-up.


A brace from the skipper, Sunil Chhetri and a goal apiece from Anirudh Thapa and Jeje Lalpekhlua completed the rout in style while Thailand’s only goal-scorer was their most experienced campaigner and skipper, Teerasil Dangda.


A rock solid defensive show from Sandesh Jhingan and company laced with intermittent showmanship from Gurpreet under the woodwork and some blistering speed on the wings from Udanta paved the way for the strikers to fire and the Indian crowd in the stands was nothing short of ecstatic.


Here are the bullets from the game:


India will never have another marksman like Chhetri


Chhetri’s presence upfront left the Thai rearguard in shambles. Chhetri isn’t much of a physical player, but his positioning sense and his goal-scoring instincts make him one of the most vicious strikers, India has ever produced.


The first spot-kick was a clinical example of Chhetri’s panache from dead-ball situations. His second was a quintessential finish from an out and out striker. He followed the ball from quite some distance, after being teed up by Ashique Kuruniyan, who flicked the ball in the path of an onrushing Chhetri. Udanta Singh laid the bedrock for the second-goal after Chhetri volleyed the ball for the advancing winger, revving down the right.


In a historic moment, Chhetri went past Argentine striker, Lionel Messi in the list of highest number of goals among active international goal-scorers with a tally of  67 goals with only Cristiano Ronaldo leading the list.

Udanta Singh was the destructor-in-chief for India tonight


Singh’s speed in the wings left Thailand bamboozled in the final third. India probably could have easily extended their margin, but Sunil Chhetri’s over-powered headers and haywire long rangers left India begging for more.


The second goal was orchestrated by Udanta, whose long centre from the right was being directed towards the D-box, while Ashique glanced it with a cheeky back heel, which seemed an uncontrolled pass towards an eagle-eyed Sunil, who blasted the ball into the top-left corner from 18 yards away.


Anirudh Thapa extended India’s lead to a two-goal cushion after Udanta’s blistering run down the centre drew a couple of Thai defenders and their custodian Budprom away from the line. Udanta turned at lightning fast speed and passed the ball for a lurking Anirudh, who did well to lob the ball home, despite receiving it a little away from the post.


Thailand’s shooting squad lacked a Mizo sniper


Thailand loved to keep the ball at their feet and that was a primary bane for their Indian counterparts in the first half.


Jaided could have drawn first blood for Thailand as early as in six minutes but he shot for the stands with Sandesh Jhingan breathing on his neck.


After a quick one-two, Kraison slammed his shot from 27 yards with the ball missing the net by whiskers.


Teerasil Dangda restored order for Thailand as he headed home from point blank range, following a stellar free-kick from Bunmathan, the man who made amends after handling the ball in his own penalty box.


Post this goal, Thailand did manage to play some wonderful passing football, but their style of the sport earned them nothing more than a few remarkable blocks from the India defenders.


On the contrary, the Mizo sniper, Jeje Lalpekhlua completed the rout, only within two minutes of coming on, after he blasted the ball home from distance, scoring after July in national colours. He was teed up by Holicharan Narzary and the typical goal-poacher knew exactly where to fire.


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