Qatar stretched their lead in Group E of the Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023, after defeating India 1-0 at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium, Doha, on Thursday.
The victory took Qatar to 19 points, seven ahead of Oman who have two matches in hand and will face Felix Sanchez’s side on Monday. Bangladesh and Afghanistan shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw in the other Group E tie on Thursday.
It was all Qatar from the very beginning as Sanchez’s men put India under pressure in the first minute with Abdelkarim Hassan blasting his effort just wide from outside the box.
Hassan then had another chance at goal in the fourth minute but his effort off Karim Boudiaf’s corner was saved by India custodian Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.
Despite defending deep, Igor Stimac’s side continued to show determination on counter-attacks with Glan Martins pulling the strings in midfield alongside Bipin Singh Thounaojam and Suresh Singh Wangjam.
Qatar came close to scoring in the 15th minute after Yusuf Abdurisag did well on the right to cut back in and relay the ball to Abdel Aziz Hatim, who however hit his volley over the bar.
India suffered a blow in the 18th minute when defender Rahul Bheke received his marching orders after picking up a second yellow card for handling the ball outside the box. Despite being a man down, India continued to deny Qatar with Gurpreet Singh Sandhu foiling the West Asians’ attempts at goal.
However, Qatar scored the opening goal in the 33rd minute after Mohammed Muntari found space down the left before slipping the ball to Abdel Aziz Hatim who converted off a rebound from his first attempt as Sanchez’s side took a 1-0 lead going into the break.
In a tactical move, Stimac replaced Sunil Chhetri with Udanta Singh as India started the second half with hope that they could salvage a point against the reigning AFC Asian Cup titleholders.
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, who kept a clean sheet against Qatar in their previous encounter, continued to frustrate Qatar when he kept out Abdelkarim Hassan from close-range in the 47th minute and later Muntari’s effort from inside the box.
The remainder of the match saw neither side able to find the net with Qatar only needing a draw against Oman on Monday to confirm top spot in the group.