India were beaten 0-3 by Iran in a Group D clash of the 2018 World Cup Pre Qualifiers at the Kanteerava stadium in Banglore. Sardar Azmoun opened the scoring in the 28th minute from a header inside the penalty box. Quick strikes from Adranik Teymourian and Mehdi Taremi inside five minutes of the second half sealed the victory for the visitors.
Coach Stepehn Constantine made two changes to the side that drew goalless against Nepal with goalkeeper Subrata Paul and Francis Fernandes dropping to the bench to make way for Arnab Mondal and Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.
Carlos Queiroz on the other hand went into the game with a more attacking line-up with striker Khosro Heydari starting in place of defender Vorya Ghafouri. Ali Haghighi was given the nod ahead of Ali Beiranvand in goal.
The home side started with a 4-3-3 formation with captain Sunil Chhetri leading the attack alongside Jeje Lalpekhlua and Robin Singh.
Iran launched attacks on the indian defense from the begining of the game and the indian defenders were kept busy.
Gurpreet Singh was playing the first game for the national side looked high on confidence and dealt well with the through balls and crosses that came his way.
Constantine was forced to make an early change in the 14th minute as an injured Dhanpal Ganesh came off for Rowlin Borges.
After a fighting performance form the hosts the deadlock was finally broken with when striker Sardar Azmoun scored the first goal for the visitors. It was a curling free kick inside the indian penalty box and the indian defenders could have dealt better with it.
India came close to equalizing a few minutes later as Montazeri’s failed clearance from a Chhetri free-kick fell straight to Eugeneson Lyngdoh but his effort was cleared away by the defence.
The away side continued from where they left off in the second half and within minutes of the restart, doubled their lead thanks to a well-placed shot from captain Teymourian. A hopeful punt towards the far post by Dejagah was completely misread by both Narayan and Gurpreet who were caught ball-watching. This allowed Taremi to head it back into play where the former Bolton Wanderers player made no mistake and drilled it into the right corner with Gurpreet caught flat-footed.
The lead was further increased by Mehdi Tarami within 5 minutes and inflicted more misery on Constantine’s men after some sloppy defending from the hosts.
India tried their level best to atleast grab a consolation and it nearly happened for them as Jeje Lalpekhlua got two easy chances to score in the dying moments of the game but his poor finishing let him down.
Iran continued to dominate both on and off the field as the 3000 odd travelling fans were pretty vocal in their support whereas their Indian counterparts could find very little to cheer about.
In the 80th minute Calvin Lobo was sent on to replace Jeje who like all the Indian forwards rarely had the ball at his feet.
Haji Safi had a chance to make it four but his free-kick was inches away from the target. India though hardly managed to keep the ball for long as they resorted to shots from distance to test Haghighi but they were all off target.
Dejagah then was left one-on-one with Gurpreet but much to the Indian custodian’s relief, the winger somehow failed to hit the target.
That turned out to be the last attempt of the game, as Iran finished victorious and topped the group. India remain bottom having yet to open their account.