AFC Asian Cup wrap: Chhetri saves the day – again!

The second round of AFC Asian Cup 2019 qualifying took place on Tuesday (as long as you forget about the Singapore-Taiwan clash on Saturday – many Singapore fans would like to) with 11 games producing a lot of goals and more than a few interesting incidents.

FOX Sports Asia takes a light-hearted look at the action.

Charmed life award

India earned their second 1-0 win of the campaign after beating Kyrgyzstan in Bengaluru.

The Indian goal led a charmed life at times, especially in the second half when Israilov Akhlidin smashed a shot against the inside of the post that bounced away to safety.

A goal-line clearance and several great stops by keeper Gurpreet Singh helped to preserve the clean sheet.

Once again, India had star striker Sunil Chhetri to thank for the three points after he netted a 69th-minute volley following a quick break.

Most fortunate goal

Myanmar’s Kyaw Ko Ko was thanking his lucky stars on 30 minutes against Macau when his complete mis-hit turned into a defence-bamboozling dummy that allowed him to put the White Angels 2-0 up.

Receiving a pass near the penalty spot, Kyaw swung a boot at the ball, but instead of connecting cleanly, Kyaw smashed the ball against his standing foot.

His unintentional shank completely deceived the Macau defence, leaving his marker on the ground, and allowed him to roll the ball past the keeper for the goal. But we’re sure he’ll tell you that he meant it.

Biggest howler

Lebanese keeper Khairulazhan Khalid will not want to watch a video of Malaysia’s goal again in a hurry.

When the ball ran free following a challenge near the penalty spot Khairulazhan moved forward to dive unchallenged onto it – only he didn’t.

Instead, he succeeded in pushing the ball straight to a grateful Mahalli Jusali, who then slotted it into the net.

Fortunately for Khairulazhan, striker Rabih Ataya was able to spare his blushes as the forward’s late brace secured the win for Lebanon and spoiled Nelo Vingada’s debut as Malaysia coach.

Honourable mentions

Goal of the round – Simone Rota (Philippines)

Quite often when defensive players score, it is spectacular. And so it proved when Simone Rota strode forward to smash home a superb 25-yarder against Tajikistan in the 79th minute on Tuesday during the Azkals’ 4-3 win.

The goal was equally important because it came as the Tajiks were on top after pulling back to 3-2 from a three-goal deficit – giving the visitors a two-goal advantage that they ultimately needed.

Phil Younghusband’s opening goal direct from a free kick was also worthy of a mention.

Goalkeeping Howler 2 – Ovays Azizi (Afghanistan)

A blunder on a par with the Lebanese keeper, although this goal was more the result of a fortunate bounce.

Receiving a back pass under pressure, Azizi decided to take a touch instead of putting his boot through the ball. He lost control as the ball bobbled and then tried to boot it clear as the Cambodian forwards closed him down.

Azizi did manage to connect, but unfortunately for him the ball bounced off Prak Mony Udom and back into the net to give Cambodia a lead they held onto.

Cambodian fans

You have to give credit to Cambodia, they can certainly pack in the crowds. More than 40,000 people turned up to watch them record a 1-0 win over Afghanistan.

Whether the tickets are really cheap or Cambodians just really love their football, the Phnom Penh-ites continue to put their Asian neighbours to shame when it comes to supporting their national team.

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