The always dependable Sunil Chhetri and Sahal Abdul Samad helped India beat Afghanistan 2-1 in the AFC Asian Cup Qualifier on Saturday.
The win moves the team closer to qualifying for the Asia Cup as India look to enter the tournament for the fifth time.
Denied for 86 minutes, Chhetri put India ahead with a brilliant free-kick from just 20 yards, taking only a few steps to put his shot straight into the right corner of the net to beat the Afghanistan goalkeeper .
It was the Indian superstar’s 83rd goal in international football as he closed with Argentina’s second-ranked Lionel Messi among active players.
Afghanistan leveled within two minutes as Zubair Amiri scored a sensational header in the 88th minute of the match. He was also helped by poor marking by the Indian defenders.
The match was heading towards a 1-1 stalemate but Samad had other ideas. After a fine pass from Ashiq Kuruniyan, Samad made some room for himself to hit the ball in front of the Afghanistan goalkeeper, leaving the spectators in a state of frenzy at the Salt Lake Stadium.
In a game where India created plenty of chances and showed their intent with the word go, Ashiq emerged as one of the standout performers for the home team as he kept Afghanistan’s defenders on their toes throughout the match. Created many opportunities.
India dominated the match for most parts and ended up as the deserving winners.
India landed in this match on the strength of a 2-0 win over Cambodia. Afghanistan, on the other hand, came on the back of a loss versus Hong Kong. India is set to play the final match against Hong Kong on June 14.