This was India's first win in 7th games in the Asian leg of the FIFA World Cup qualifiers and they now occupy the third spot in the Group E table behind hosts Qatar (19 points) and Oman (12).
India beat Bangladesh 2-0 to move to third place in Group E of the FIFA World Cup and Asian Championship qualifiers on Monday. The goals were scored by skipper Sunil Chhetri, who reclaimed his position as the second-highest active goal scorer in the world. He leapfrogged Lionel Messi on the list and is only behind Cristiano Ronaldo. The Blue Tigers displayed an absolutely dominating performance. They had a whopping 74% possession and 16 shots with five on target. Bangladesh sit at the bottom of the table. The win was essential for the Indians as they broke a long winless record to earn their first three points in the campaign.
The last time these two sides faced each other was back in October 2019 at the iconic Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata. The game had ended in a 1-1 tie. This match also seemed to be heading for a draw as neither side had managed to break the deadlock until the 77th minute. However, the veteran striker Chhetri took full advantage of an Ashique Kuruniyan cross in the 78th minute. He headed the ball past the Bangladesh keeper to make it 1-0.
It was not, however, his last contribution in the game. Right at the end, in stoppage time, Chhetri let fly from a long way out to double India’s advantage. It was the 92nd minute when the Indian skipper scored a peach of a curler. The goal is a testament to how the veteran has maintained his game at the highest level despite his age.
Coach Igor Stimac had switched to a defensive formation to hold on to the slender advantage before the second goal. He brought pn Pronay Halder and Adil Khan to replace Chinglensana Singh and Brandon Fernandes. Bangladesh were throwing bodies forward in search of an equaliser but the Indian defenders stayed strong and blocked out any potential attempt on goal.
Midfielder Brandon Fernandes also had a game to remember as he completely bossed the midfield and made it almost impossible for the opponents to create any chances, or even retain possession. It is a result that will fill the Blue Tigers with a lot of confidence ahead of their final group game against Afghanistan on June 15.