2019 AFC Cup Qualifier: India thrashes Macau 4-1

The victory gives India a main draw spot in the prestigious continental championship.

Sunil Chhetri celebrates after scoring his goal.   -  K. Murali Kumar

Heavy rain did little to dampen Indian spirits as the home team cruised past Macau 4-1 in a 2019 AFC Asian Cup qualifier here on Wednesday. The victory gives India a main draw spot in the prestigious continental championship. On a damp Sree Kanteerava Stadium pitch, strikes from Rowllin Borges, Sunil Chhetri, Jeje Lalpekhlua and an own-goal by Lam Ka Seng gave the side three vital points.

India opened the account in the 28th minute, when Borges's side-footer deflected off Macau defender Ieong Cheng and past the custodian. Macau fought back, and sprang a surprise a few minutes later when Nicholas Mario recorded an equaliser. This was Macau's first goal in four Group 'A' fixtures thus far, while India conceded its first.

Read: Head-coach Constantine heaps praise on Team India after AFC Cup qualification

After the restart, India took control. There was more purpose in the attacking forays, which soon bore results. Balwant Singh - he came on for Jackichand Singh at the start of the half - made an uninterrupted run down the flank. A sliding cross found Chhetri deep in the penalty area. The India skipper had little trouble converting.

Own goal

The match was put to bed in the 70th minute, when an unlucky Seng found his own net. The Macau midfielder swung his left foot in a clearance attempt, but only managed to slice the ball over his goalkeeper. Just before the final whistle, Jeje found the target to give India a comfortable win.

The top nations in the continent will compete in the AFC Asian Cup, to be held at UAE in January 2019.

A thrilled Chhetri, who was part of the team which qualified for the 2011 Asian Cup, said, "In the 2011 edition, we faced Bahrain, Australia and South Korea. It's sad, but after that, we haven't got the chance to face them again. That is why it is so important to qualify for big tournaments like this. It gives us the opportunity to test ourselves against strong opponents."

The result

India 4 (Rowllin Borges 28, Sunil Chhetri 60, Lam Ka Seng-og 70, Jeje Lalpekhlua 90+2) bt Macau 1 (Nicholas Mario 37).