With UAE going top of the group after a 2-0 win against India, FOX Sports Asia takes a look at the key talking points from their AFC Asian Cup 2019 clash.
Khalfan Mubarak put the hosts ahead on the 41st minute, before Mabkhout sealed the game for them late on in the 89th minute. While there were plenty of positives for India to take from the loss, they are nevertheless in a nail-biting battle to qualify to the next round from group A.
5. Visitors India surprisingly dominate first-half
Having drawn their first game against Bahrain, the hosts UAE were expected to come all guns blazing into their second game in front of their own fans. Indeed, India’s coach Stephen Constantine, in his pre-match presser remarked how his side were expecting a stern reply from their opponents.
It was a complete surprise, however, when it was instead India who dominated the game for the majority of the first half, coming close several times while defending resolutely as well. What was even more encouraging for India was the fact that the domination wasn’t restricted to a spell, but was evident throughout the first half and even by extension, throughout the game.
4. UAE go ahead against the run of play
Having failed to get in behind India the majority of the half, the pressure was growing on UAE. The hosts however, made the most of their luck in the 41st minute.
Working the ball well for the first time on the right flank, they pushed India back and finally got their reward, Khalfan Mubarak putting the ball past Indian keeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu. It was a goal that surprised even them perhaps, given the flow of the chances and eventually proved a big downer for the Indians.
3. Crossbar denies Udanta equaliser before Mabkhout seals the deal
Despite cruelly going behind at the end of the first half, India continued pushing UAE in the second half the same way they had done in the first.
They made the most of their time on the ball and as expected, an opening arrived. Working the ball on the right flank, very similar to UAE’s first goal, Udanta was sent through by captain Chhetri and attempted almost the same finish but was denied by the crossbar – UAE breathing a sigh of relief before Mabkhout finally sealed the game in the 89th minute, calmly slotting it past the keeper to send UAE top of the group.
2. India rue missed chances
Despite being ranked lower than their opponents, India created several chances and will be left ruing the fact that they could have sealed qualification had they converted the glit edged opportunities that came their way.
Three clear opportunities were spurned by Chhetri, Ashique and Jhingan in the first half itself, while they struck the crossbar twice in the second – a total of 5 goals which might have gone in on another day. Nevertheless, the Indians gave a very good account of themselves in a match where most people expected nothing out of them, and on the basis of this performance will no doubt be looking forward to the final group game against Bahrain.
1. Group A blown wide open
In what is shaping up as one of the most interesting groups of the AFC Asian Cup 2019, UAE’s win against India and Thailand defeating Bahrain blows the group wide open – with all 4 teams still having a realistic chance of qualifying for the next stage of the competition.
UAE go top with a win and a draw, while India go second on goal difference, being level on points with Thailand, who managed a win despite sacking their coach after an opening day humiliation against the Indians. All in all, a treat for fans and neutrals alike!