Robin ends Indians' dry spell

Robin ends Indians' dry spell

Football WC Qualifiers : Hosts beat Guam 1-0 for their maiden victory

Robin ends Indians' dry spell

 It took them almost 460 minutes to lead a game in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers. But once there, India made sure that they held on to their solitary goal advantage to see off Guam 1-0 in their Group D tie here on Thursday.

With the clouds opening up and refusing to stop until the final whistle, striker Robin Singh made sure that the home side had a reason to cheer as he netted a sublime goal in the 11th minute to give India their first win of the campaign at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium.

The game, however, was marred with problems as the officials were called into making a few close calls, while the local authorities were busy running pillar-to-post to sort out a generator trouble that delayed the kick-off by 15 minutes.

Pegged on by an enthusiastic crowd that unfurled a gigantic banner before the kick-off, which read ‘The road is long, but belief is everything. Stand up for Indian football’ in support of the national side, Robin gave them every reason to celebrate with a peach of a strike.

The Delhi player, deployed as the lone man ahead in a three-man forward set-up that comprised of captain Sunil Chhetri and Romeo Fernandes, kept his composure to get past a defender and curl a right footer from the edge of the penalty area into Doug Herrick’s right post to give India the lead.

The Indians also had their share of luck as the visitors had a goal ruled out in both the halves that saw the lead remain intact.

Soon after the opener, the visitors could have had the deficit restored. But for the linesman who spotted forward Marcus Lopez in an off-side position as he lobbed over keeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu to send the ball into the Indian net.

Playing a high-pressing game, something not seen till now under Stephen Constantine’s reign, the home side had opportunities to add to their lead as chances kept coming in numbers, some due to India’s patient build-up, while some due to their opponent’s defensive howlers. But none resulted in the much needed second goal as the Indians saw their shots go way past the target.

The Indian defensive unit, led by an agile Sandesh Jhigan, too was up to the mark as the visitors found it difficult to break the Indian back four who held a tight line to deny the Guamanians any room to exploit.

Throwing their bodies on line, the Indians might have taken some beating, but the biggest blow came by the end of the opening half when the Australian referee Jarred Gillett flashed a red card against midfielder Sehnaj Singh for what was a reckless two-footed challenge on Justin Lee.

Coming out with renewed spirits and an altered game plan, forced due to the suspension, the Indians once again put up a commendable show to defend their lead and register their first points in the group.

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