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United Arab Emirates proves ‘two’ good for gutsy India

 ABU DHABI, Jan 10: India left their scoring boots and luck behind while hosts United Arab Emirates found both after a subdued opener to record a 2-0 win in the AFC Asian Cup here on Thursday.

Khalfan Mubarak (41’) and Ali Ahmed Mabkhout (88’) scored for the home team, entering the game in some desperation after a 1-1 stalemate with Bahrain in the tournament opener.

UAE moved top of the table in Group-A with four points from two matches while second-placed India still remained in the hunt for a knockout berth with three points from two outings.

India drubbed Thailand 4-1 in their opening encounter on Sunday but the Thais got their campaign back on track with a 1-0 win over Bahrain in the evening fixture. India made a positive start in both the halves and created many chances but paid dearly for lacking the finishing touch.

The Blue Tigers missed three big chances in the first half while they created opportunities after the break too, India were denied on two occasions by the framework.

On expected lines, the UAE enjoyed possession initially, but to the surprise of many, India had more shots at goal and dominated proceedings by keeping the opposition defence busy.

Sandesh Jhingan’s free header off a corner by Anirudh Thapa, which was won by Pritam Kotal, went off target. India could have been 1-0 up as early as the 7th minute at the Zayed Sports City Stadium. Unmarked at the far post, Sunil Chhetri’s header after Thapa squared it for the second-highest active goal-scorer in international football. – PTI

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