Lebanon through on aggregate, after playing draw with India
Oct 31: Lebanese football team is now through to the next round ending up Indian campaign on a 6-3 aggregate, after Indian football team held Lebanon to a 2-2 draw, in the second leg of the 2010 FIFA World Cup Asian qualifiers here on Tuesday afternoon.
India playing their home tie needed a 3-0 victory margin to qualify for the next round, went in to the lead in the 29th minute through prolific striker Sunil Chhetri but failed to seize the initiative by missing the scoring chances in the second half. Captain Bhaichung’s injury time equaliser saved the day for Indians otherwise the match would have gone in Lebanon’s favour.
Substitute Mohammed Ghaddar, who was instrumental in Lebanon’s 4-1 win at home was once again turned out to be the hero for Lebanese side. He was again became the saviour when he scored both the goals in the 80th and 86th minutes for his team.
India opened the attack in the 23rd minute through Bhutia who gave a fine pass to Chhetri inside the box. But he shot straight into the hands of Goalkeeper Larry Mehanna after dodging past one defender.
India kept the momentum in the second half and had a chance to double their lead but N. Pradeep squandered an easy sitter, when he shot the ball straight into the hands of Mehanna from close quarter.
Indian team had a major setback in the mid of the second half when custodian Subrato Paul brought down El Ali Mohammad inside the box, and was sent off conceding a penalty. Samir Naik had to make way for the second goalkeeper Sandip Nandy.
Subsituted Ghaddar made no mistake to beat Nandy on his left to restore parity for his team. Ghaddar then put his team ahead in the 86th minute when he dodged past Indian defenders before attracting Nandy out of the post to guide the ball into the net. India managed to score in the dying minutes through Bhutia to level the scores.
India’s chief coach, Bob Houghton said, “Pradeep missing a goal at the start of second session was the turning point of the game. Had we gone 2-0 then, it could have been altogether different.
“After that the penalty that we conceded and with the sent off to Paul, it was all over for us. We could not go for attacking substitutions and the whole course of the game changed from thereon.”
Nevertheless Houghton was pleased with his 10 boys who put up a good show towards the end and managed to hold the Lebanese side. He also praised Steven Dais for his fine efforts in the match.
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