Bengaluru, June 11: India went down 1-2 to Oman in a FIFA 2018 World Cup football qualifying match at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium here on Thursday.
It was India's first match of the second round of qualifiers. India and Oman are in Group D along with Iran, Guam and Turkmenistan for the preliminary league with top two finishers progressing to the next phase of the competition. As many as 46 Asian countries vie for the four spots in the 2018 World Cup finals to be held in Russia.
India fell behind as soon as the match began after poor marking helped forward Qasim Said score with a stinging left-footed shot within 20 seconds.
The goal put the home team right on the backfoot and they were constantly under pressure, being pinned back to their half and rarely able to muster meaningful attacks.
Indian goalkeeper Subrata Paul, the most occupied among the hosts, had to scamper to his left and right to keep India from conceding further.
India, however, squared the contest against the run of play in the 26th minute. Striker Sunil Chhetri unleashed an excellent sudden left-footer on the turn from the edge of the penalty box to stun Oman, ranked forty rungs above India's 141 spot.
India grew in confidence after the strike but their defence again cracked under pressure. Debutant Dhanachandra Singh gave away a penalty bringing down midfielder Eid Mohammed, which was converted by striker Amad Al-Hosni.
The momentum shifted towards the visitors as they went into the break with a 2-1 lead.
The hosts put together an improved performance after the breather successfully keeping their stronger opponents at bay even putting the ball in the back of the net through Robin Singh in the 68th minute.
But his effort was deemed off-side. India pressed for the equaliser but never mustered to procure goal-scoring opportunities.