GUWAHATI, Sept 5 - Oman put up a spirited second half display to notch full points in the opening match of the Group E FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifying match at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium here today.
Trailing by a goal till half-time, Oman rode on a Rabia Alawi Al Mandhar brace to seal full points.
With the match kicking off in presence of a capacity crowd, both the teams had their share of chances although it was India who managed to get the desired result in the 24th minute. Switching sides, Oman players pressed hard and pumped into two crucial goals to open their campaign with a well deserved victory.
Oman had their first shot on goal through Abdulaziz Al Maqbali from inside the box in the eighth minute. However, the firmly struck shot didn�t cause much of a problem for Indian custodian Gurpreet Singh Sandhu who handled the shot with ease.
India nearly got the required result in the 14th minute with Sunil Chhetri providing Udanta Singh with a golden chance, however, the latter�s strike from inside the box hit the crossbar.
The hosts again came close to breaking the deadlock in the 19th minute with a corner taken by Anirudh Thapa, but the well elevated chance was headed above the target by Sandesh Jhingan.
India finally took the lead in the 24th minute with the talismanic Chhetri finding the back of the net with a powerful strike to leave the Oman custodian gasping. Having received a free kick, Brandon Fernandes provided an ideal opportunity which the experienced skipper didn�t make any mistake in converting.
Gurpreet came to the team�s rescue in the 43rd minute with a gem of a save. Ahmed Kano with a powerful header from close range just had to place the ball into the net but Gurpreet stood firm to produce a confident save.
Coming into the second half, desperately in search of an equaliser, Oman players pushed forward in numbers although the Indian defence line maintained to hold on to the lead till the 82nd minute.
Gurpreet was the saviour yet again in the 54th minute, this time the custodian diving towards his left denied substitute Muhsen Saleh Al Ghassani the equaliser. The lanky glovesman was again into the act with a brilliant save in the 74th minute.
Despite all the resilient defending, India finally succumbed to a brilliant counter-attack in the 82nd minute. Rabia Said Al Alawi Al Mandhar took advantage of an onrushing Gurpreet to chip the ball into an empty net. Al Mandhar got his brace with a wonderful strike from the edge of the box in the 90th minute to seal full points for the visitors.