This is India’s biggest win in their Asian Cup history and their first win in the tournament after 55 years.
Sunil Chhetri’s penalty (27′) gave India the lead before Thailand hit back through Teerasil Dangda (33′). However, India turned on the charm in the second half with another strike from Chhetri (46′) and goals from Thapa (68′) and Jeje (80′) sealed the result and sent India to the top of Group A. Stephen Constantine opted to hand Ashique Kuruniyan a start alongside Sunil Chhetri in attack.
It was India who took the lead against the run of play. Kuruniyan made a swashbuckling run down the left and his effort came off the goalkeeper Budrom but ricocheted off Bunmathan’s hand which saw the referee award India a spot-kick. Chhetri stepped up and sent the custodian the wrong way to make it 1-0 for Constantine’s side.
Thailand quickly equalized in the 33rd minute. Bunmathan’s free-kick from the left saw an unmarked Dangda head the ball home.
The Blue Tigers bounced back in style immediately after the break. Songkrasin lost the ball and Thapa initiated the counterattack , finding Udanta Singh down the right who made a blazing run and crossed for Kuruniyan. The Kerala winger back-heeled it for the onrushing Chhetri whose first time shot sailed into the back of the net.
India scored their third goal in the 68th minute through Anirudh Thapa. The midfielder once again kick-started the move before Chhetri released Udanta. The right winger was closed down by Wiriyadomsiri as he found an unmarked Thapa who coolly chipped it into the far corner.
India rubbed further salt to Thailand’s misery when Narzary sent a ball for Jeje and the Mizoram striker chipped the ball into the back of the net from the edge of the area.
India completed a convincing 4-1 win over Thailand. A historic night for the Blue Tigers as they win their first Asian Cup match since 1964 India simply could not have asked for a better start. 3 important points in the bag. Even if they draw their next two matches, India will go through to the knockout rounds. They will now face UAE followed by Bahrain in the Asian Cup.
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