Hosts Palestine rode striker Caro’s 47th minute spot kick to successfully hold dominant India to a 1-1 draw in their last Group D encounter of the AFC Women’s Asian Cup (Qualifiers) here at the Faisal Al Huseni Stadium in West Bank on Saturday (May 25, 2013).
For India, Sasmita Malik scored her second consecutive goal of the Tournament in the 35thminute. Courtesy the result, both the outfits finish their respective campigns with a point each. While India are third, Palestine stay rock bottom.
India got their first real chance in the 19th minute when striker Pinky Magar’s right-footer from close was palmed away by rival custodian. The 51st Ranked Team could not make early inroads due to the number of legs – virtually the entire team – inside the danger area. But once they did, they stretched the Palestinian defence with the hosts’ ultra-defensive approach going for a toss.
Kamala Devi’s effort in the 17th minute, after being set up by Sasmita Malik, went inches wide. Pinky Devi’s header tested the goalkeeper. Former India Captain Oinam Bembem Devi kept the hosts’ rearguard on tenterhooks with her defence splitting through balls.
The twice SAFF Champions were rewarded for their relentless attacks in the 35th minute.
Sasmita – goalscorer of the last match against Chinese Taipei – expertly cut past her marker to unleash a thunderous right-footer that crashed into the top right corner.
It was 1-0 in favour of India at halftime.
Palestine equalised from nowhere minutes after the change of ends. Captain Tuli Goon tripped forward Natali inside the 18-yard box to give away a rare penalty. Caro converted from the spot.
That goal was the first and last time the 91st Ranked Nation troubled India goalkeeper Roshni Devi as the visitors kept on the pressure. Bembem drilled her effort in the 57thminute agonizingly wide while Prameshwori Devi’s shot ten minutes later hit the woodwork. Earlier, the Manipur winger also saw his chip being tipped over by Palestine goalkeeper Nadin.
Stopper back Ashalata Devi’s free kick from 30 yards kissed the horizontal on its way out in the 80th minute.
The action hardly shifted from the Palestine half as India pushed hard for the winner. Their counterparts seemed to settle for a point. They had only goalscorer Caro outside their own half.
India Coach Anadi Barua introduced strikers Bala Devi and Rinaroy Devi in the 56th and 81st minute respectively to add teeth up front. But the hosts were determined to not return empty handed in front of their home crowd. They somehow clung on to the 1-1 scoreline.INDIA: Roshni Devi; Tuli Goon (C), Ashalata Devi, Radharani Devi, Suprava Samal; Sasmita Malik, Premi Devi, Oinam Bembem Devi, Prameshwori Devi; Kamala Devi, Pinky Magar.