India go down 0-3 against the mighty Iranians in a crucial Group D clash at the Shree Kanteerava Stadium Bengaluru.
Sardar Azmoun scored the opening goal in the 28th minute from a sly header inside the penalty box. The lead was doubled Adranik Teymourian in the 47th minute. The final goal of the match was scored by Mehdi Taremi within four minutes which sealed the fate of the match.
India were the minnows on paper from the beginning of the match and were expected to play defensive football against the Asian giants. Gurpreet Singh Sandhu made his debut for the national team in this crucial encounter as he was chosen ahead of veteran Subrata Pal under the bar. Stephen Constantine fielded his team in 4-4-3 formation with Sunil Chhetri and Jeje Lalpekhlua upfront. Bengaluru FC boys Eugeneseon Lyndoh and Robin Singh operated on the wings. Constantine wanted to use Robin’s physical presence in midfield blocking.
Carlos Queiroz’s men attacked from the very beginning of the match and constantly imposed pressure on the Indian defense. The launched a series of attacks which kept the defenders busy from the beginning.
Arnab Mondal, Sandesh jhingan and Pritam Kotal did a fantastic job in keeping the Iranian attackers at bay as they protected the Indian goal vigilantly.
Unfortunately, after fighting for nearly half an hour the ice was finally broken when Iran’s star striker Sardar Azmoun scored the opening goal from a sly header. Iran won a free-kick almost 30 yards away from the goal near to the right flank. A curling free-kick was launched inside the Indian penalty box which was converted by Sardar with an intelligent back head which easily beat Sandhu at the near post. The Indian defense could have done a better job in marking the Iranian star.
The teams approached half time with the score sheet displaying 1-0 in favour of the away side. It was definitely a commendable first half for 155th ranked Indian side.
India showed a little bit of flair upfront as the second half resumed as they started attacking in Iran’s half. But their efforts where soon dismissed after Iran scored the second goal of the match. They launched a cross from the left flank which went past the goal and had possibly crossed the goal line before one of the Iran footballer could put it back inside the field. The linesman did not indicate a goal kick but the Indian players stood still on the ground waiting for the referee to make a call. Taking advantage of the situation, Adranik Teymourian took a powerful shot at goal which easily beat Gurpreet.
The lead was further increased withing 5 minutes as the away side scored once more this time convincingly beating the resolute Indian defense. The home defenders completely surrendered in front of a speedy Iran attack.
Indians thereafter tried hard to find atleast a goal but could score one. Jeje Lalpekhlua got two easy chances to convert in the ending moments but his finishing was poor.
Iran convincingly beat India to move at the top of the Group while India struggle at the bottom without registering a single point. Though the hosts lost against Iran by a big margin but their performance had certain positive aspects. Constantine should pick up those points and try to improve the game in the coming matches.