2019 AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers, AFC Asian Cup Qualifying - Group Stage

Chhetri winner puts India on course

Sunil Chhetri's 69th-minute strike helped India beat Kyrgyzstan 1-0 in their second Group A game in the AFC Asian Cup qualifying campaign. Having beaten Myanmar in their first game, the result helped India go top of the group with two wins out of two.

It was India's third win against Kyrgyzstan in as many games in all competitions, and Chhetri has scored in each of those games.

After being rested for the friendly against Nepal last week, Chhetri was handed a start alongside Jeje Lalpekhlua and Jackichand up front, as Stephen Constantine fielded a full-strength team. However, the visitors dominated possession in the opening period, winning a series of corners and forcing a decent save from Gurpreet Singh Sandhu inside the first fifteen minutes.

India grew into the game in the next quarter of an hour, and finally had a shot on target in the 26th minute, albeit resulting in an easy save for the keeper. Kyrgyzstan forward Mirlan Murzaev was the standout performer in the first half, and came close in the 33rd minute with a curling shot that went just over.

Jeje forced a brilliant save from the Kyrgyzstan keeper in the 36th minute as the visitors' defence went to sleep during a throw-in. Gurpreet made another crucial save in first half added time to deny Murzaev and keep it 0-0 at the break.

Kyrgyzstan's best attempt of the match came in the 55th minute when Israilov hit the post with a brilliant attempt from near the edge of the box. They came close yet again in the 61st minute, when a Gurpreet save was followed up by a clearance off the line by Anas, which kept it at 0-0.

Chhetri, who had shot over from a couple of yards out in the 57th minute, made up for his mistake a little later with a neat, first-time finish from Jeje's chipped pass following a quick break.

Second-half sub Robin Singh had a chance to finish the game off in injury time, but he shot over after being put through Chettri. Chettri had a chance to get his second in the dying moments, but shot wide after dribbling past the defenders.

India's next group match is away to Macau on September 5.

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