Muscat: Romeo Fernandes’ 88th-minute strike helped India recover from an early jolt as the team rallied to hold United Arab Emirates to a 1-1 draw in an Under-22 AFC Championship match here.
Down by a Jamal Ibrahim goal, as early as in the ninth minute, India came back strongly to share the points after a barrage of attacks on the rival citadel, Romeo restored parity in the 88th minute. The early goal conceded may have been an initial setback but it didn’t unnerve India. Rather, they stayed content in building up from back, so much so that the first 20 minutes earned the team three corners. The number increased to seven by the 40th minute.
In the midfield, a robust group comprising Manandeep Singh, Lalrindika Ralte, Milan Singh and Pranay Halder pressed hard throughout. The first half yielded seven corners and a handball shout was ruled out in the 40th minute inside the UAE penalty box.
Changing over, UAE defended were forced into defensive mode. They tried to change the combination a number of times, but it failed.
Romeo’s fresh legs on the right stretched them and in the 51st minute, Tirthankar Sarkar missed heading into an empty second post, the ball agonisingly missing.