India pulled off a 1-1 draw to curtail Syria from moving on to the finals in their last league match of the ongoing Intercontinental Cup in Ahmedabad on Tuesday. Narinder Gahlot for India opened the scoreline as he put India in the lead in just the 51st minute of the match.
Syria then equalised when captain Firas Al-Khatib converted a penalty in the 78th minute of the match.
It is to be noted that India had already lost their previous matches in the tournament to Tajikistan and North Korea and are hence out of the race for the final of the tournament. However, this was a must-win game for Syria to reach the finals.
India looked a far improved side in this match compared to their last two outings in the tournament. In their earlier matches in the tournament, India did not have an effective defence strategy and new coach Igor Stimac will have to work out a new and effective strategy to deal with the issue.
Although both the sides looked good in the first half, it turned out to be a goalless first half. Meanwhile, Gahlot finally opened the scoreline as he headed the ball and scored his maiden goal in International football in just his second match.
The Men-in-Blue then looked to dominate and kept the possession of the ball with them. The pressure was on the Syrians to equalise and maybe even go past India because for them, it was a must-win match. However, India’s dominating style of play had to come to an end when Jerry Lalrinzuala made a rash tackle and the referee was quick to award Syria a penalty.
Firas was quick enough to grab the opportunity with both hands and scored to equalise for Syria.
The hosts thus managed to grab a point from the match.
Tajikistan and North Korea will now meet in the finals on Friday.