Indian football's new era under Igor Stimac didn't embark the way the team would have wanted it to as they lost 1-3 to Curacao in the King's Cup semi-final.
However, Sunil Chhetri can take pride from the fact that he leveled West Germany's Gerd Muller, Republic of Ireland's Robbie Keane, and Guatemala's Carlos Ruiz's tally of international goals.
Chhetri's goal was his 68th in 108 international matches, a number bettered by only 16 individuals. Among those 16 players, only Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo is active in the international circuit, with all the others having hung up their boots.
Chhetri overtook Argentina's Lionel Messi way back in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup when he scored against Thailand.
Curacao found themselves two goals up early in the game after Roly Bonevacia and Elson Hoi scored for them in the 15th and 18th minute respectively. India lacked the impetus in the attacking front and were pushed on the back foot from the get-go. Apart from Sahal's first-time volley after connecting with Brandon's lob down the center, India hadn't fired a single shot on goal.
However, soon enough, the Kerala Blasters midfielder won a penalty for India after Curacao's Jurich Carolina went in with a high boot on the youngster inside the penalty box. The referee didn't hesitate one bit, pointing to the spot following which India's captain Sunil Chhetri stepped up to take the spot kick.
Chhetri took a short and slow run-up but blasted his effort into the bottom left corner in the 31st minute. The goalkeeper, PSV Eindhoven's Eloy Room, did get a hand to it but the shot had so much venom that he couldn't prevent the ball from crossing the goal-line.
Curacao restored their two-goal cushion just a minute later and the scoreline remained unchanged after that. India will now face either Vietnam or Thailand in the King's Cup third-place playoff match.