What's the Story?
India's Sunil Chhetri has overtaken Lionel Messi in the active international goalscorers' list after scoring a goal against Thailand in their 2019 AFC Asian Cup encounter. The Bengaluru FC forward is only behind Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo who has rattled the back of the net 85 times for his country.
In case you don't know...
Although one can argue that most of Sunil Chhetri's goal came against lesser fancied opponents like Nepal, Bangladesh, and the Maldives, it would be unfair not to appreciate the efforts of the talismanic Indian.
Both Sunil Chhetri and Lionel Messi were tied at 65 goals each, with the Indian's last goal coming up against Kenya in the 2018 Intercontinental Cup.
The heart of the matter
In the 27th minute, Sunil Chhetri took a quick throw-in from a counter attack and Ashique Kuruniyan latched on to it. The 21-year-old Villarreal C youth product tried to angle his shot through Thailand's goalkeeper Chatchai Budprom, but the rebound hit Thailand defender Theerathon Bunmathon's hand.
The referee didn't hesitate a bit to point towards the spot and India's record goal-scorer stepped up to take it. Sunil Chhetri, as cool as cucumber in the run-up to the spot-kick, waited for the goalkeeper to commit and then unleashed a powerful grounder shot towards the bottom left corner to score his 66th international goal.
Here is the historic goal which pipped Lionel Messi from the record books:
India took a momentarily 1-0 lead which got equalized later thanks to Thailand's Teerasil Dangda. However, Sunil Chhetri scored another goal for the Blue Tigers in the 46th minute after latching on to a back pass from Ashique Kuruniyan to restore the one-goal slender lead.
Chhetri later went to score in the first minute of the score half.
India won the game 4-1 against Thailand with Chhetri netting twice and Anirudh Thapa and Jeje Lalpekhlua finding the back of the net once each.. The readers can follow Sportskeeda's 'As it happend' here.
India are placed in Group A of the tournament with matches against the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain lined up on 10th and 14th January respectively.