The Blue Tigers maintained their perfect record in the qualifiers with a second consecutive win.

India picked up a thrilling 2-1 win over Afghanistan to maintain their perfect record in the AFC Asian Cup 2023 Qualifiers. Sunil Chhetri broke the deadlock for India in the 86th minute from a gorgeous free-kick, but Afghanistan forward Zubayr Amiri got an equalizer two minutes later.

As it looked like the game would end in a 1-1 draw, super-sub Sahal Abdul Samad scored the winner in the 91st minute to help get a big win for the Blue Tigers. Here are the Indian player ratings from the game against Afghanistan.

Watch: Sunil Chhetri’s free-kick goal against Afghanistan

Gurpreet Singh Sandhu – 6.0

Gurpreet barely had anything to do in the game because of Afghanistan’s lack of threat to his goal. But, then he popped up with a fantastic save to deny Zubayr in the 73rd minute.

He looked sharp in his goal and utilized his towering physique to collect crosses and move the ball around well. Could’ve maybe done better to deny Amiri’s goal that went in at his near post.

Naorem Roshan Singh – 7.0

The young full-back looked sharp defending against Afghanistan’s moves down his wing. He was quite alert throughout the game, putting in some last-ditch challenges to ruin a lot of moves. Roshan also stayed on the overlap to support his attackers and put in some inviting crosses. Sadly, none of them were converted.

Anwar Ali – 7.5

Ali looked confident and secure at the back, not getting unnerved by Afghanistan’s physical side. Maintained a strong backline with Jhingan and came up with some crunching challenges time and again. Had a big scoring chance in the second half, but saw his powerful header go just over the bar.

Sandesh Jhingan – 7.5

Jhingan acted as India’s leader at the back and shepherded a tight backline that didn’t allow Afghanistan any easy chances. He used his game-reading ability to cut out a lot of moves and win the ball back in key areas.

Akash Mishra – 7.0

Mishra again proved himself as a dependable defender by putting in a solid shift on the left. He kept the Afghanistan wingers under pressure with his smart defending and put up a number of key tackles to dispossess them. Didn’t make too many overlapping runs and was less adventurous than usual going forward.

Jeakson Singh – 6.0

The Kerala Blasters midfielder kept things quite secure in midfield, moving the ball around efficiently. Did his defensive duties quite well too, coming up with vital tackles and clearances to frustrate the opposition midfielders. But, Jeakson also missed a vital chance in the first half, blaring a header over from a corner.

Suresh Singh – 7.5

Suresh was tasked to be the play-breaker for India and did his job superbly against Afghanistan. The energetic midfielder worked hard to cover a lot of ground and came up with some impressive interceptions. Moved things around well, maintained nice positioning and shielded his backline from being exposed.

Ashique Kuruniyan – 8.5

Kuruniyan got a start after an impressive cameo in the last game and looked really menacing on the left. Made a few brilliant runs and set up some very score-able chances. He was unlucky not to get an assist for that in the first half.

Worked hard and covered a lot of ground, while also coming close to scoring after a long-ranger went just wide in the second half. He got his reward in the end. It was Ashique, who earned the free-kick for Chhetri to score and then set up Sahal’s winner too.

Liston Colaco – 4.0

Liston played in an interesting role, operating just behind Sunil Chhetri in the attacking line. But, he struggled to move around in the congested central areas, not getting into any promising positions. Made a few nice defence-splitting passes, but was frustrated by some tight marking.

Manvir Singh – 5.5

Manvir worked very hard to cover ground on the right and seemed to be ready for the physicality of the game. Made a few charging runs and barged in some promising passes into the box.

Created the big chance for Chhetri in the second half with a nice header into the six-yard area, but saw that missed too. Ended his game in poor fashion, losing his marker Amiri and allowing him to score the equalizer- something for which he was blasted by Chhetri.

Sunil Chhetri – 7.5

The Indian captain was a targeted man in the game, as he was the victim of some ruthless tackles and a lot of fouls. He was frustrated and letting the Afghanistan defenders get to his head, as he missed a few nice chances.

But, Chhetri kept his best for last, curling a perfect free-kick over the wall and into the back of the net. Saw that go in vain as India conceded minutes later.

Substitutes

Brandon Fernandes – 5.0

Fernandes was brought on to be the game-changer for India, but put in an underwhelming effort. Missed a golden opportunity after skying a shot from yards out and wasn’t able to create anything either.

Glan Martins – 6.0

Martins kept the energy levels up for India in midfield, coming up with crunching challenges and helping progress the ball forward really well.

Sahal Abdul Samad – 8.0

The Kerala Blasters star was introduced at a time when India desperately needed a winner and he came up with it in spectacular fashion.

He was at the right place at the right time, clinically finishing from close range to send the Salt Lake Stadium into a frenzy and get a vital winner for India.

Udanta Singh – N/A

Unable to make much impact in the last few minutes.

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