New Delhi: Riding on Jeje Lalpekhlua’s second-half strike, India eke out a 2-2 draw against Myanmar in their 2019 AFC Asian Cup qualifier on Tuesday.
Jeje chested down a long cross from Eugeneson Lyngdoh before scoring with an accurate finish in the 69th minute.
The Indians are now unbeaten for the last 13 matches, having won 11 of those. They have already ensured qualification for the continental championship and the clash Myanmar was only of academic interest.
They are at the top spot in Group A with 13 points from five matches.
But India’s performance in Tuesday’s match was nothing to write home about. Before Jeje’s goal, the hosts were struggling to keep up with the visitors.
Myanmar had taken the lead within the first 20 seconds after Naing Oo Yan jumped above a sleeping Indian defence to head in Thein Than Win’s cross from the left flank.
Sunil Chhetri got the equaliser for India when he converted a penalty in the 13th minute. India goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh virtually handed back the lead to Myanmar on a platter with an atrocious blunder just seven minutes later.
Kyaw Ko Ko’s shot from outside the box had seemed harmless, but Gurpreet made heavy weather of what should have been a simple save.
The visitors continued to dominate and Gurpreet had to be at full stretch to keep out a well-directed free kick in the 35th minute.
Four minutes later, India missed a chance to get back on level terms when Sandesh Jhingan attempt from the edge of the six-yard box sailed inches over the bar after the ball had fallen kindly for him after a deflection off a free kick.
Chhetri almost got his second of the match in the 58th minute when his header off Udanta Singh’s cross from the right went inches wide of the Myanmar upright.
Jeje went close for India a couple of minutes later but Win Min Htut kept him at bay by deflecting his shot for a corner.
India’s increasing momentum culminated in Jeje’s goal. It continued to be an equally matched affair after that and India denied a winning goal when Jhingan failed to score from close range. (With IANS inputs)