Qatar made light work of India in their FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifier at the Kalinga stadium, Bhubaneswar - winning 3-0 thanks to goals from Mustafa Meshaal, Almoez Ali and Yusuf Abdurisag.
The first goal came in the fourth minute, when Meshaal seized on a loose ball as India let the ball pinball around inside their own box and smashed into the bottom corner. This had been preceded by Akram Afif missing an open goal from four yards out - and the goal merely underlined the strong start that Qatar had made. In front of the visiting Arsene Wenger, Carlos Queiroz's men put on quite the show early on but couldn't double their advantage in the opening half.
Amrinder Singh's woeful distribution from the back meant Qatar kept coming at the Indian defence in waves: they just couldn't make the pressure count. Afif was the prime culprit as he dillied and dallied with his finishing, allowing Sandesh Jhingan (twice) and Rahul Bheke (once) to get super, albeit last ditch, tackles in. Afif's delivery from setpieces meanwhile caused all kinds of trouble as Qatar kept sending free headers high and wide.
They made up for their profligacy early on in the second half - within the first minute, in fact. Afif, was once again at the heart of it, as he smashed a shot that Amrinder stopped only temporarily... and as it bounced below him and trickled towards goal, Ali came sliding in and touched it over the line. Late in the piece substitute Yusuf Abdurisag made it three with a neat header at the near post, guiding a lovely cross in that Amrinder had no chance with.
India had their chances, but they were few and far in between. Anirudh Thapa toe-poked wide from the edge of the box after Sunil Chhetri picked Boualem Khoukhi's pocket. Sahal Abdul Samad ran behind the defence, onto a superb Suresh Singh ball, and sent a meek left-footed shot wide. Lallianzuala Chhangte whipped a lovely ball into the box that caused a bit of panic... but that was about it. Apuia and Suresh did well in midfield to turn and drive India up the pitch, and relieve pressure on the beleaguered back four but India's forwards never really troubled the champions of Asia.
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