Doha, Qatar: Qatar missed chances galore and had to be content with a goalless draw against India in their second match of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 qualifiers at Al Sadd Stadium on Tuesday.
Asian champions Qatar were all over India in the first half but poor finishing and Gurpreet Singh Sandhu’s brilliant form helped the visitors stay in the game.
Though Qatar continued to dominate the game, India put in a much-improved performance in the second half to snatch a share of spoils from the 2022 World Cup hosts.
Qatar had defeated Afghanistan 6-0 in the first match and it looked like they were in the mood for another thrashing.
Captain Hassan Al Haydous was the first to test Sandhu with a powerful shot, which the Indian keeper saved at the expense of a corner in the ninth minute.
A few minutes later Abdelaziz Hatem’s left-footer from outside the box dipped alarmingly towards the goal, but not enough to trouble Sandhu.
Al Haydous tested Sandhu again with another long-ranger in the 20th minute, before Boualem Khoukhi flashed his header wide with an open goal in front of him.
Then it was Abdulkarim Hassan’s turn and the Qatar left-back unleashed a stinging long ranger which Sandhu acrobatically saved, diving to his right.
Almoez drew another save from Sandhu while Al Haydous hit the side-netting with the follow-up.
Moments later, Hatem’s right-footer from the right sailed across the goal harmlessly as referee Muhammad Nazmi blew the halftime whistle.
In the first half, Qatar had 14 shots on goal, drawn seven saves from Sandhu, seven corners to India’s none, but Felix Sanchez’s men had nothing to show for that on the scoreboard.
India, urged on by their vociferous fans, had tried to initiate a few attacks in the first half but Qatar defence, comprising Tarek Salman and Bassam Al Rawi, proved too strong for Manvir Singh.
India had to wait till the 50th minute for their first meaningful attempt on Qatar goal and it had the hosts in a spot of bother.
Sahal Abdul Samad, India’s most impressive player along with Sandhu and Sandesh Jinghan, evaded the challenge of Assim Madibo and released Udanta Singh whose cross, however, was too long for Manvir.
A few minutes later Samad again got the better of Madibo, whose tackle from behind earned him a yellow card.
Qatar were getting a little jittery and Sanchez brought in striker Ahmed Alaailddin in place of Hatem.
Qatar continued to have the upper hand, but they were unable to dominate India like in the first half and with clear cut chances also becoming less frequent, Sanchez looked a bit worried.
Soon Alaaeldin then sent his header over the bar while Al Haydous’ intended curler rested in Sandhu’s hands.
Then out of the blue, the men in blue launched an attack and almost shocked Qatar, but Udanta Singh’s shot was over the bar.
At the other end, Qatar continued to create chances, even deep into the added time, and miss them as well, somehow. It was not Qatar‘s day but It definitely was Sandhu’s.
Qatar lead Group E with four points from two matches while India are on one.