India’s golden run in the AFC U-22 Championship qualifiers continued, as the young Indian colts thumped Turkmenistan 4-1 in an encounter at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex, Muscat on Saturday.
The deadlock was broken be Lalrindika Ralte from the spot before Italmazov Farhad equalized in the 59th minute. India replied in emphatic fashion, as three goals in a period of 18 minutes by Alwyn George, Romeo Fernandes and Jeje Lalpekhlua saw the Blue Tigers romp home in style.
The Turkmenistan side had certainly taken note of India’s form during the tournament and started on a cautious note with as many as ten men behind the ball in the early stages.
The tactic seemed to be working until the 36th minute, when a sudden burst of speed saw by Romeo Fernandes led to him being brought down by Komekov Hemayat in the box, with Lalrindika Ralte duly dispatching the ball home to give Arthur Papas’s side the lead.
Alwyn George was the next to come close, as after breezing past two defenders, he was unlucky to see his shot come back off the post.
While the 138th FIFA ranked side continued to frustrate India, the Blue Tigers didn’t lose their patience and continued to build from the back and tried stretching the opposition in wider areas at every opportunity.
However India could not add to their advantage when the referee blew the whistle for half-time.
Turkmenistan, as expected, showed far more attacking intent at the start of the second half, and it was only an outstretched palm of Gurpreet Singh Sandhu which prevented the Turks from equalizing.
Romeo then became the second Indian player to hit the upright, when his nicely placed shot from a Vishal Kumar throw-in came back off the post in the 51st minute, before Manandeep Singh’s ambitious long range effort went over the bar.
Turkmenistan then shocked the Indian faithful when Farhad’s well struck right footer beat Gurpreet in India’s goal, all ends up.
However India regrouped quickly and Alwyn George regained the lead for India, as he took full advantage of a defensive lapse, confidently chipping over the onrushing Garayev in the 71st minute. The Pailan Arrows man then missed a golden opportunity to seal the points for India, as this time the Turkmenistan keeper deflected his effort away with his legs.
It did not matter though, as Dempo’s Romeo Fernandes scored his second goal in as many games, when he made no mistake infront of the goal, after being expertly set-up by the lively Alwyn in the 76th minute.
Then Jeje put the icing on the cake, when in the 85th minute he converted from the spot, a penalty he himself earned, after being pushed inside the box.
With this win, India now move to 7 points from 4 matches and next play hosts Oman on July 3.