India suffer narrow defeat against Oman in Muscat
India succumbed to a narrow 1-0 loss against Oman at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex Stadium in Muscat on Tuesday. Muhsen Saleh Al Ghassani scored the only goal of the night, finishing brilliantly from a Mohsin Al Khaldi through ball. With the win, the Reds stay second with 12 points from five fixtures, while India find themselves in fourth spot with just three points from five matches.
- Oman were awarded a penalty in the 5th minute when Muhsen Saleh Al Ghassani was brought down by Rahul Bheke. The forward missed from the spot.
- Al Ghassani, however, redeemed himself to score for the hosts in the 33rd minute.
- Both sides cancelled each other out in the second 45 as the hosts emerged victorious.
Igor Stimac’s men got off to a bad start after Al Ghassani was brought down inside the box by Rahul Bheke in the fifth minute. The referee awarded the spot-kick with Al Ghassani himself stepping up to take it. His shot, however, flew over the crossbar much to the joy of the Indian fans.
That said, Oman weren’t affected much by that miss and dominated possession, while hardly allowing India any look in. The Blue Tigers’ first opportunity came from a set piece in the 20th minute, with Brandon Fernandes perfectly picking out Sunil Chhetri’s run. The record Indian scorer, though, failed to make the most of a presentable chance.
Just past the half hour mark, the Reds made India pay for that miss, as Al Khaldi played a scrumptious through ball to find Al Ghassani eye-to-eye with Gurpreet Singh Sandhu. Al Ghassani made no mistake this time around, slotting the ball past Sandhu to give his side the lead. The hosts had a couple of half chances to increase their advantage before half-time, but a failure to make the most of them meant that they went into the break with a 1-0 lead.
The hosts began the second period just as they ended the first, stifling the Indian attack and restricting them to just long balls. Al Khaldi had the home side’s first chance of the second period in the 64th minute, but his long-range freekick was well saved by Sandhu.
Both defences held firm as the match headed into its last quarter, with Sandhu’s save from an Ali Sulaiman Al-Busaidi effort the closest either side got to another goal. Chhetri and Co. had a few half chances from set pieces in the final few exchanges, but a lack of ruthlessness in the final third meant that they were condemned to their second defeat in the qualifying campaign.