India Oman Sunil Chhetri
India players celebrate the goal scored by Sunil Chhetri in their World Cup qualifier against OmanIANS

For a brief moment when Sunil Chhetri scored a goal-and-a-half, it looked like India might just be able to pull off a major upset by beating Oman. However, Oman's quality shone through in the end, even if the eventual 2-1 scoreline was a lot closer than the visitors would have liked in their World Cup preliminary qualifier in Bengaluru.

Twenty seconds was all it took for Oman to open the scoring in this Group D game, with the dangerous Qasim Said, showing just why he was considered such a threat, scoring a simple goal off a simple pass from the left channel.

India were shaken by the early goal, with Oman looking to finish their opponents off within the first few minutes by going all out for the second goal. Some of the interplay between the Oman players was outstanding, with Subrata Pal called in to make a nice save just before the 10-minute mark.

The Oman No.9 Abdul Aziz Al Muqbali had a couple of chances as well, but that second goal would not come for the Paul Le Guen's side, and India's vice-captain made them pay, and how in the 26th minute.

A throw-in from the right was initially miscontrolled by Chhetri, but the striker won the ball back, and then fired in a stunning, whipping, swerving shot with his left foot, which beat Ali Al Habsi to his right, struck the inside of the post and crept in.

It's amazing how a goal can change the confidence in a team, because just like that Stephen Constantine's were now in the ascendancy. A couple of "oh if only he had crossed it there" or "if only he had made that run" phases came and went, before, yet again, the pendulum swung the other way.

Oman, who were definitely rattled by that Chhetri screamer, passed their way into the India box, with Eid Mohammed then inducing a stupid tackle from Dhanachandra Singh, leaving the referee with little choice but to point to the spot.

Emad Al Hosani stepped up and thumped the ball past Subrata Pal's right hand, but the referee asked for the spotkick to be retaken following player infringement in the box. It is always difficult when the penalty-taker has to ripple that net again, having already done it, but Al Hosani showed no signs of nervousness, this time stroking the ball to Subrata's left to put Oman in the lead on 40 minutes.

Oman controlled large parts of the second half, just taking the bite out of the game, and making India chase a few shadows, but for all their possession, the home team could have easily left the Sree Kanteerava Stadium with a point, had that assistant referee's flag stayed down.

Robin Singh applied a near-post finish off a move fashioned by Eugeneson Lyngdoh, who looked dangerous in set-pieces, but could not get into the game as much as he would have liked, and CK Vineeth. However, the referee's assistant, correctly, raised his flag, with Robin just a shade offside as he forced the ball into the net, be that via Sallam Amur or his own boot.

India could not find another moment of inspiration after that near-chance in the 68th minute, and Oman held on for the win, much to the sizeable crowd's disappointment.

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