India breezed past Guam 4-0 for their second consecutive win in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Challenge Cup 2014 qualifiers at the Yangon Training Centre here Monday.
After a barren first-half, India came out firing all cylinders in the second half scoring four goals.
India, who now have six points from two matches, next play Myanmar in their last match slated for Wednesday. (Image courtesy: AIFF)
Sunil Chhetri opened the scoring in the 49th minute and completed the scoreline in the 91st. Clifford Miranda and Jewel Raja Shaikh scored a goal apiece in the 68th and the 80th minute, respectively.
After a goalless first half, Chhetri drew first blood four minutes after resumption. He followed Lenny Rodrigues's through pass, beat the off-side trap and slotted it past rival goalkeeper Douglas Herrick, much to the relief of all.
And then the flood-gates opened.
The second goal came in the 68th minute -- this time, Miranda blasting home his left-footer after being set up by Mehtab Hossain.
Jewel placed the third goal to perfection after being found unmarked inside the box by substitute C.K. Vineeth while Chhetri scored the fourth, heading in a Mehtab Hossain corner in the 91st minute. The goal took Chhetri's tally of goals to 40, two short of India's all-time scorer, former India captain Bhaichung Bhutia.
It was a tactical display by the Indians against Guam, who looked ultra-defensive at times. Finding it difficult to break free among the crowd of legs, the Indians preferred to use the flanks in the second half and open up the rivals.
India had their first chance in the 19th minute when Syed Rahim Nabi set up Jewel Raja Shaikh inside the box. Jewel trapped it, sidestepped Guam's central defender Travis Nicklaw but shot wide. Two minutes later, Chhetri, playing a one-two with Nabi entered the box but Herrick was up to the task.
The Indians laboured hard and halfway into the first half, they were omnipresent on the field. Guam, by the 35th minute itself, had fallen down to defend. At times, one could find all their eleven players in their own half. Once around the box, it was hard to find the route, the jungle crowd of legs making it all the more difficult for India.
There were a series of corners which India earned but they didn't yield any result. In the 39th minute, a counter-attack saw Mehtab Hossain feed Chhetri inside the box but the fate didn't change as both teams went to the resumption with a clean slate.
Changing over, the urgency was visible right from the kick-off. In the 46th minute, Lenny set up Miranda inside the box but his powerful shot narrowly sailed over.
And almost immediately, India surged ahead. Lenny split the rival defence which saw Chhetri beat the off-side trap and with all the time in the world at his disposal, slotting it past Herrick wasn't much of a task. It was a relief, a much-needed one for India.
In the 56th minute, Mehtab found Clifford on the left flank but Jewel failed to tap Clifford's centre from inside the box. It sailed over. A minute later, a build-up from the back had Guam chasing all quarters.
It ended with Lenny Rodrigues's shot missing the upright narrowly. And then in the 58th minute, Chhetri's powerful header off a Raju Gaikwad throw-in narrowly sailed over again -- the third one in three consecutive minutes.
The trend continued -- in the 67th minute, a Denzil floater found Jewel with only the goalkeeper to beat, but he too tapped over.
However, it was not for long that Guam could hold on. The goal which was very much inevitable came in the 68th minute - this time Clifford Miranda blasting it home.
Substitute C.K. Vineeth had, perhaps, the best chance in the second half but he couldn't find the target with only Herrick to beat with what was his first touch on the ball.
It didn't prove costly as Jewel scored India's third goal in the 80th minute, his second one in consecutive matches. But more was in store. A trademark Chhetri header found the back of the Guam net in the first minute of extra time -- India winning 4-0.