AFC Asian Cup 2019 Qualifier: Myanmar 0-1 India: Sunil Chhetri turns saviour for the Blue Tigers
Ajith Namboothiri
India's talisman Sunil Chhetri scored a goal at the death to give the Blue Tigers a fortuitous win against Myanmar...

India recorded a 1-0 win against Myanmar at the Thuwanna YTC Stadium in Yangon, courtesy a goal at the death by talisman Sunil Chhetri. 

Stephen Constantine made a clutch of changes from the side that overcame Cambodia. Jeje Lalpekhlua started beside Robin Singh while Jackichand Singh was deployed on the right wing. In defense, Anas Edathodika was partnered by Sandesh Jhingan. 

Myanmar, meanwhile, began with two men up front in the guise of Aung Thu and Kyaw Ko Ko while Si Thu Aung and Yan Naing Oo started on the wings. 

The home side's front two combination made life miserable for the Indian defenders and in the eighth minute, Gurpreet had to be on his toes as he came out and smothered the ball with Ko Ko looking to get on the through ball played by Thu. 

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In the 12th minute Ko Ko's audacious chip from his own half, seeing Gurpreet off his line, missed the target narrowly. 

India were looking haggard in the opening quarter but Robin Singh did well to win the ball and play it on to Chhetri but there was no way through as the Myanmar defence stood strong. Narayan Das's follow up cross too was blocked. 

A lovely move from the Men in Red saw India caught napping once more. A quick free kick from Tun in defense found Htan in acres of space down the right who showed impeccable control to flick it on to the path of Thu who tried to find the far corner but managed to sky it in the 15th minute. 

India followed it up with a miss of their own as Jeje Lalpekhlua made space for himself from about 25 yards but could only hit it over the goal. Ko Ko meanwhile spurned another glorious chance after being played through by Si Thu Aung but sliced his effort with Anas doing well to put him off. 

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Pritam Kotal came up with a clearance in the 24th minute as Ko Ko squared it across the face of the goal only to see it miss Aung Thu in front of goal. 

In the 28th minute, India had an opening following Narayan Das's cross from the left which goalkeeper Si Thu put in the path of Jackichand Singh whose chip towards goal was somehow parried out by Si Thu who had recovered his bearings on time.

Four minutes after the hour mark, Blue Tigers carved the best chance of the match as Robin Singh's cross from the left side fell to Jackichand Singh staring at an open goal. The winger somehow lost his footing and sliced his shot over the bar, before going down in disbelief at having missed such an easy chance. 

In the 36th minute, Chhetri had only Si Thu to beat but the Myanmar goalkeeper did well to make himself big and smother the chance. 

Ko Ko was again at it a minute before half-time as he found space down the right but his grounded effort towards the far post was inches wide. 

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About ten minutes after the restart the White Angels had a clutch of chances which they failed to convert. Good defending from Anas Edathodika saw Ko Ko and Thu Aung both miss their efforts while a mistake from Gurpreet saw skipper Aung Kyaw only managing to smash it over the goal from just outside the box. 

The introduction of Udanta Singh added pace to the Indian attack and following a period of calm, Udanta tested the goalkeeper with an angled effort after being played on by Chhetri in the 86th minute. 

Ko Ko's lack of finishing prowess continued to haunt him as he managed to direct his header wide from inside the box a minute later. 

India made Myanmar pay for their profligacy in front of goal as in the last minute of the match Udanta tore away from his marker down the right before finding Chhetri in the box who made no mistake and smashed it past an onrushing Si Thu to give India the lead. It was Chhetri who had begun the move and it was only fair that he was the man to finish it. 

The away side held on for the three added minutes and managed to come out victors in spite of not looking to be at their best. 

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