Asian Cup: Dominant India squander plenty of chances to secure goalless draw against Iran | football news

NAVI MUMBAI: The Indian women’s team squandered countless chances in an absolutely dominating performance as Iran held them to a goalless draw in their Asian Cup opening game here on Thursday.
Head coach Thomas Dennerby will be disappointed with the result of the game as a win over bottom-placed Iran would have put his side in a comfortable position to qualify for the quarter-finals.
But he must be partially lucky as his wards showed a good demonstration of possession and passing football at DY Patil Stadium, especially in the second half.
He hopes his side can continue and score in Sunday’s second game against Chinese Taipei, who were beaten 4-0 by China the previous day, to keep their quarter-finals prospects alive.
The Indians would have expected Iran to be defensive, but it turned out to be the opposite in the early stages.
Iran, 70th versus 55th India, were the better side in the opening minutes with two chances including a crossbar, but the home side took over Group A midway through the first half and dominated to the end.
Iran had two chances in their dominant period when captain Behnaz Taherkhani headed off the bar from a Samaneh Chahkandi free-kick after beating goalkeeper Aditi Chauhan in the 12th minute.
Despite captain Ashalata Devi being rock solid in defence, Iran almost took the lead in the 19th minute when an Indian defender’s header rebounded and landed in front of Negin Zandi, who sent the ball wide under pressure.
After absorbing the initial pressure, India settled down and came on their own. However, Indumathi couldn’t contain her volley in the 24th minute, while Manisha Kalyan’s free header also sailed over the bar six minutes later.
But India’s best chance came in the 32nd minute. Pyari Xaxa’s scraped shot was friendly for Indumathi, but her toe kick sent the ball over the bar.
India put on a fine display of passing football in the second half and they were faced throughout by an unsettled Iran side who had nothing to do but desperately defend.
Dennerby’s side were unlucky not to score and won the game comfortably. Iranian goalkeeper Zohreh Koudaei made save after save to deny India the full three points.
While India pressed for a goal, Iran defended tenaciously while facing a barrage of attacks. The Indians were everywhere – crosses, shots, toe-butts, headers – all in the Iran box, but the home team still eluded a goal.
In the 51st minute, Manisha Kalyan sent in a nice low cross from the left, but Pyari Xaxa’s toe kick went just wide. A minute later, Xaxa again failed to get hold of the ball after a nice pass from Sandhya Ranganathan as an Iranian made a last-ditch effort to defend.
On the hour, Indumathi’s shot hit the side netting after a fine build-up.
Stepping in Dangmei Grace instead of Sandhya increased the pace of the Indian attack.
Another great chance for India came in the 76th minute but Dangmei’s header from an open goal was somehow saved by the keeper who made a remarkable recovery from defeat.
Dangmei missed another chance towards the end when she came in just a little late to shoot in front of goal and an Iranian defender came to the rescue with a last tackle.
India did not include Sweety Devi and Linthoingambi Devi (goalkeeper) in their 23-man squad line-up in their matchday line-up. Also, Panthoi Devi has been added as a goalkeeper. Two unnamed players had tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday.
India plays against Chinese Taipei on Sunday.

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