Chhetri: 'I felt like we were playing against Barcelona in the first half'

Sunil Chhetri overtook Lionel Messi on Sunday to become the second highest active international goal-scorer in India's 4-1 win over Thailand in the AFC Asian Cup.

India skipper Sunil Chhetri once again led from the front with a brace in the team's emphatic 4-1 win over Thailand in the AFC Asian Cup at the Al Nahyan Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Sunday. Chhetri's goals one again helped him overtake Argentinian great Lionel Messi as the second highest active international goal-scorer with 67 goals. 


The striker, however, downplayed any prompts of comparison between him and the five-time Ballon d'Or winner. "I don't take it very seriously," said Chhetri. "There is no comparison between me and Lionel Messi or (Cristiano) Ronaldo. But I am very, very honoured.

"I don't take it for granted when I score goals for my cpuntry. Every time I get an opportunity I try to do my best for my country."

Chhetri gave India the lead from the spot in the 26th minute despite being pegged inside its own half for much of the opening period by a quick-passing Thailand side. The War Elephants' dominance was rewarded seven minutes later when Teerasil Dangda scored the equaliser from a set piece.

Sunil Chhetri celebrates Anirudh Thapa's strike against Thailand.   -  AP


On the first 45 minutes, Chhetri noted, "It's not easy to play Thailand especially with the technical quality they have it's very difficult. It's high-pressing all the way until the final minute.

"You can't let them have the ball for even five minutes because they could punish you. In the first half, for 25 minutes, I felt like we were playing against Barcelona. They were so good."

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According to the 34-year-old, the Blue Tigers pressed their opponents higher up the field in the second half which allowed them to win possession in dangerous positions and counter with pace.

Chhetri put them back in the lead in the 46th minute from a counter attack which set them up for the historic win.

"We made sure that we are going to be brave and press them high and make sure they don't pass around and that really worked. And also what worked was we got the goals at the right intervals and then we pressed and worked hard. It's not easy against them," he said.