India trounce Singapore 4-1 to sneak into pre-quarterfinals

India join Kuwait and Qatar in the knock-out round

With Qatar and Kuwait having already qualified from the group, India needed a good win to finish third and stake claim for a last-16 berth as one of the four best third-placed teams across six groups.

The big win meant they ended with three points and a goal difference of zero. Qatar topped the group with seven points after a 2-0 win over Kuwait while the latter finished second with six points. Both the teams took the qualification spots reserved for the top two teams from each of the six groups.

Contests in Groups E and F also ended on the day and the third-placed teams in those groups, Uzbekistan and Maldives, had an inferior record compared to India, ruling them out of contention. The Indians, thus, are certain to finish within the four best third-placed teams, earning them a spot in the pre-quarters.

India had to ward off a stiff Singapore challenge in the first half before ramming in three more goals in the second half.  Jewel Raja Shaikh put India ahead in the 13th minute off a free-kick but Singapore threatened repeatedly with the Indian defence displaying a casual approach at times.

In the second half, counter-attacks proved decisive for India as the Singaporeans fought for the equaliser. Balwant Singh struck a superb goal from a few yards into the Singapore area in the 63rd minute, raising the Indian confidence level by several notches.

Four minutes later, Jibon Singh produced a terrific finish, drilling the ball through the legs of Singapore goalkeeper Durmi Muhammad for the third goal in the 75th minute.
Manish Maithani completed the tally, off a pass from skipper Joaquim Abranches, who played despite an ankle injury.

Singapore caused some panic in the Indian ranks with a goal in the 83rd minute by Luo Zheniun but India held on to get the result they wanted. A final picture of the second round will emerge only on Saturday after the other groups are completed.

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