India and Myanmar played out an entertaining 1-1 draw in the final group stage game of the Asian Games 2023 on Sunday.
Sunil Chhetri found the back of the net in the first half, but Myanmar's Yan Kyaw Htwe leveled the score in the second period. Despite the draw, India confirmed their second-place finish in the group, ensuring their spot in the competition's round of 16.
The game started in a cagey fashion, but India were guilty of giving away avoidable fouls in dangerous areas. Around the 15th minute, Myanmar came close to scoring from a free-kick just outside the penalty box, with Zaw Win Thein nearly curling his shot into the bottom corner.
But India capitalized on Myanmar’s error in the 20th minute, as Hein Zeyar Lin’s back pass was closed down by Rahim Ali. He appeared to have scuffed a one-versus-one opportunity, but Lin fouled him inside the box, with the referee having no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Sunil Chhetri stepped up and scored his second goal of the campaign to give India a huge lead.
India continued to push for the second goal, with Sandesh Jhingan coming close to scoring from a corner situation, while Bryce Miranda also had a half chance to net his first goal of the competition.
On the other end, Myanmar looked dangerous on the break, but the Blue Tigers were resolute at the back and effectively limited space in midfield. As the halftime whistle blew, India held a one-goal lead, but Myanmar was gradually gaining momentum in the match.
Myanmar capitalize on India’s missed chances in the second half to secure a draw
India continued to be dangerous on the counter-attack at the start of the second half, with substitute Gurkirat Singh and Rahim Ali having golden opportunities in quick succession to extend their lead. Disappointingly, both players failed to capitalize on one-on-one situations with only the goalkeeper to beat. Myanmar's goalkeeper, Zin Aung deserves credit for making two outstanding saves that kept Myanmar in the game.
India’s goalkeeper was then called into action when Myanmar's center-back Zwe Khant tried his luck from long range, only for Dheeraj Singh to deflect the shot away.
Myanmar began growing into the game, and capitalized on India’s missed chances, scoring an equalizer with over 20 minutes of regulation time left. Yan Kyaw Htwe displayed impeccable timing as he slotted the ball into the net, from a perfectly delivered cross, reigniting his country's hopes in the match.
Myanmar continued to push for the second goal, yet as the match neared its conclusion, both teams seemed weary and content with a draw.
This outcome ensured India's second-place finish and direct qualification for the knockout stages. Myanmar, holding four points, are in a strong position to secure third place and advance to the next round.