The United Arab Emirates beat a nine man India 3-0 in the first-leg of their 2014 FIFA World Cup - Asian Round 2 home-and-away qualifier at the Sheikh Khalifa International Stadium in Al Ain City tonight. First left back Debabrata Roy and then goalkeeper were handed marching orders by the 23rd minute, but India fought on and denied the UAE a big win.
This 3-0 loss leaves India a mountain to climb if they are to stay in contention for a place in the next round of Asian qualifiers for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The return-leg will be played on July 28 at the Ambedkar Stadium, Delhi.
India looked tense early on with the UAE putting constant pressure on the Indian backline, but they kept the sheet clean in the opening minutes, then came the four minutes of madness from the Qatari referee Banjar Al-Dosari who ended India's campaign in the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
In the 19th minute Debabrata Roy clumsily grabbed hold of UAE striker Mohammed Al Shehhi, who fell inside the box while Subrata Pal collected the ball. Debu's action wasn't at all needed. The referee blew the whistle for a sure shot penalty but then red carded Debabrata which shocked the India players, then the Dempo defender had brought down the player but it wasn't a 100% chance. The UAE's Hamdan Al Kamali walked up to take the penalty and placed the ball to left of Subrata, who dived in the right direction but couldn't get to the ball.
Then came the 23rd minute. After a free-kick for the UAE Subrata collects the ball and puts his knee up to shield himself against a charging Ismail Alhammadi, it seems there was contact, but Alhammadi goes down as if he had been hit really badly. Replays show that Subrata might have had minimal side-way contact with Alhammadi if any at all. Referee Al-Dosari pulls out another red with even more shock on the faces of the Indian players. At this stage it seems India could walk out of the tie and the AFC match commissioner Jun-Young Kim from South Korea has to intervene to avoid more damage as the first shock turns into anger against the referee.
India are now down to nine men, to face a penalty as Karanjit Singh gets ready for his India debut as he replaces Steven Dias. The Punjabi from champions Salgaocar SC would have surely liked a more calm surroundings to come in and not directly face a penalty. After more then six minutes the match continues as Mohammed Al Shehhi scores in the 29th minute.
India has to change formation with two players less on the field. Syed Rahim Nabi takes Debabrata Roy's place as left back, while Sunil Chhetri falls back into midfield and Jeje Lalpekhlua stays upfront in a 4-3-1 formation. It now seems India could be in for a trashing, but the UAE themselves seem shocked at what had happened infront of their eyes as they are unable to really put Karanjit in real trouble in the remaining minutes of the first half.
After the break the aim of India remains the same to keep the scoreline as decent as possible and maybe get a crucial away goal to keep the two-legged tie competitive. India's first chance comes of a Sunil Chhetri shot in the 50th minute but no worries to UAE keeper Khasaif. Armando Colaco then took off an aggressive Mehtab Hussain in the 57th minute for young Jewel Raja to avoid another possible expulsion as keeper Karanjit Singh grew in stature as the match went on with the UAE putting pressure on India but rarely did they have quality chances.
In the end the UAE did add one more goal in the 81st minute to the tally when Ismail Alhammadi scored by beating the Indian defence and keeper Karanjit. It ended 3-0 for the UAE and the two sides meet again on Thursday in Delhi. The India players will most likely ask themselves what would have been possible without the two expulsions.
United Arab Emirates 3-0 (2-0) INDIA - Goals: 1-0 Hamdan Al Kamali (21'), 2-0 Mohammed Al Shehhi (29'), 3-0 Ismail Alhammadi (81').
Red Cards: Debabrata Roy (19'), Subrata Pal (23')
UAE 22-Humaid Khasaif; 3-Murad Yousuf, 5-Abdulla Husain Alhammadi, 7-Mohamed Al Wehaibi (55' 13-Ahmed Husain Al Musabi), 8-Hamdan Al Kamali, 9-Mohammed Al Shehhi (69' 23-Anbar Mubarak Alaraimi), 11-Mubarak Alunaibi (88' 10-Khamis Al Saadi), 15-Ismail Alhammadi, 16-Mubarak Ghanim, 17-Jaber Al Hammadi, 19-Ahmad Ali Gharib
Substitutes: 1-Majid Altawila Alsuwaidi, 12-Mohamed Alhosani, 4-Hamdan Al Hamdani, 6-Juma Al Saadi, 14-Farhan Alfalasi, 18-Faraj Abdalla, 20-Salem Al Rejaibi
INDIA 1-Subrata Pal; 16-Samir Naik, 19-Gouramangi Moirangthem Singh, 3-Raju Eknath Gaekwad, 2-Debabrata Roy; 12-Steven Benedic Dias (28' 23-Karanjit Singh), 8-Climax Lawrence [C], 21-Mehtab Hussain (57' 13-Jewel Raja Sheikh), 9-Syed Rahim Nabi; 10-Jeje Lalpekhlua, 11-Sunil Chhetri (84' 20-Lalrindika Ralte)
Substitutes: 22-Laxmikant Kattimani, 4-Rowilson Rodrigues, 5-Valeriano Rebello, 6-Baljit Singh Sahni, 7-Lalkamal Bhowmick, 14-Mahesh Gawli, 15-Clifford Miranda, 17-Robert Lalthlamuana, 18-Sushil Kumar Singh
Referee: Banjar Mohammed B.J. Al-Dosari (Qatar)
Assistant Referees: Hassan Rashid H.R. Althawadi (Qatar), Ramzan Saeed M.F. Al-Ramazani (Qatar)
4th Official: Khamis Mohammed S.A. Al Marri (Qatar)