An early strike from Anwar Ali (in the second minute) and a record-equaling goal from captain Sunil Chhetri helped India beat Hong Kong in their last match of the AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers. Manvir Singh and Ishan Pandita also chipped in with late goals. Having already qualified for the AFC Asian Cup, India took the field against Hong Kong high on confidence. It reflected straight away as Anwar Ali found the back of the opposition’s nets in the second minute of the play itself.
Anwar Ali capitalized on the quick passes and stunned Hong Kong’s defense by going past them and finding a short corner so early in the match. The Men in Blue (India) then kept the lead intact as they fought hard after a rusty start from their defense. Nonetheless, the lead stayed for India with the defense also settling and keeping the Hong Kong forwards away from the Indian net.
After an early opening, captain Sunil Chhetri capitalized as he hit a goal right before the half-time. It was a good pass and Chettri with a sensational first touch, controlled it well and maintained the composure to strike the goal with his left foot. It was Chhetri’s 84th international goal and he equalled Hungary’s Ferenc Puskás’ goal tally.
The second half of the play was a dry run for both India & Hong Kong teams as they struggled to score. Hong Kong tried desperately throughout the match but the Indian defense was not ready to give up their fort yet. However, Manvir Singh ended the goal drought in the second half as the right-foot forward netted a goal in the 84th minute. Ishan Pandita was also quick to pounce on an opportunity really late in the game as he netted a goal in the extra time (90+2′).
This early 2-0 lead from India and late assaults from Manvir and Pandita proved to be handy for the Men in Blue as they beat Hong Kong 4-0 and take their head-to-head tally to 8-4 in 16 matches.
Also, with this win over Hong Kong, India finished as the table-toppers of Group D comprising Hong Kong, Afghanistan, and Cambodia. India won all of their three matches and finished the AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers with nine points. India beat Cambodia 2-0, Afghanistan 2-1, and Hong Kong 4-0.