Bengaluru: Skipper Sunil Chhetri scored a peach of a goal as India beat Kyrgyzstan 1-0 in their AFC Asian Cup 2019 qualifiers Group A match here at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Tuesday.
India now have six points from two outings and a clean slate to show for. The Stephen Constantine-coached side won their first match against Myanmar 1-0 and are at top of the four-team group.
In the 69th minute, Chhetri got past three defenders to find Jeje Lalpheklua who passed him back and the Bengaluru FC striker scored at one go to find the bottom corner.
The visitors had a gilt-edged chance at the hour mark when Lux Vitalij’s volley was cleared off the goalline by India centre-backs Anas Edathodika and Sandesh Jhinghan.
Towards the end of the match, Chhetri had another chance to double the tally and put the game to bed but this time shot over from close after twisting and turning past defenders.
In the first half, there were clear-cut chances for both sides but none could convert them.
Constantine made two changes from the 2-0 friendly win over Nepal the previous week with Mohammed Rafique and Robin Singh making way for Eugeneson Lyngdoh and skipper Chhetri who was rested for that game.
The tourists, ranked 32 places below India, started the game brighter but were guilty of muffing them.
India began to rein in and after twenty minutes a cross-field pass sent Jackichand Singh through on the right.
Jackichand tried to find Jeje but the ball came back to him only to be put way over target.
India looked to break on the counter and after 35 minutes. Chhetri launched a quick throw for Jeje to run at goalkeeper Matiash Pavel who saved the Mohun Bagan player’s low effort.
It was 0-0 at halftime. The visitors had a golden chance to take the lead just minutes into the second period. Murzaev and Lux held the ball up well to tee up Israilov Akhlidin but he skewed his take with the goal at his mercy.
There was a goalline clearance in the 60th minute when Edathodika and Jhinghan kept the scores level clearing the ball on the line after home keeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu was left stranded following a save from Murzaev. Lux hit the rebound on the volley.