India have overcome a stubborn Macau resistance, to all but secure a place in the Asian Cup 2019 qualifiers, after their 2-0 victory over Macau at the Macau Olympic Stadium on Tuesday.
Having previously beaten Myanmar 1-0 away and Kyrgyz Republic 1-0 at home, the win has extended India’s lead in Group A with 9 points from three games and takes their unbeaten run in international matches to 11.
Former Mohun Bagan and Mumbai FC Striker Balwant Singh was the hero of the day, as he came off the bench during the second half to score both goals in the 57th and 82nd minute.
Ranked 96th in the FIFA list, India were overwhelming favourites against Macau who are currently ranked 183rd, but despite this Macau started with a resolute defence that India could not break and the first half ended goalless.Follow our betting tips here.
Sunil Chhetri had a long range effort blocked in the 13th minute and Jeje Lalpekhlua missed from close range in the 34th minute, however the Indian goal was not threatened by Macau.
During the second half Stephen Constantine’s men put Macau under serious pressure with three of their forwards upfront. Balwant fired a header wide five minutes after coming on for Eugeneson Lyngdoh, before India captain Chhetri saw his headed attempt meet the crossbar a minute later.
Balwant who has now scored three goals in three appearances for India nodded an inch-perfect cross from Narayan Das into the bottom right corner of the goal in the 57th minute giving India the lead.
With 8 minutes remaining the Blue Tigers finally sealed the match after Balwant took advantage of a defensive lapse, snatching the ball just outside the corner of the 18-yard box and flicked the ball over Macau goalkeeper Ho Man Fai for a brace.
India will play Macau again on 10th October at Sree Kanteerava Stadium, Bangalore.