AFC Asian Cup 2019: Heroic Sunil Chhetri inspires India to shock 4-1 victory over Thailand in opener
Sunil Chhetri's brace and goals from Anirudh Thapa and substitute Jeje Lalpekhlua completed the rout to leave India as unlikely group leaders.
India stunned Thailand 4-1 at the Asian Cup football tournament on Sunday, veteran striker Sunil Chhetri scoring twice in their Group A opener.
Watched by the 12 Thai schoolboys rescued from a flooded jungle cave last year after being trapped for more than two weeks, the War Elephants had little answer to India's brimming energy in Abu Dhabi.
Chhetri opened the scoring when he smashed home from the penalty spot after 27 minutes.
The Blue Tigers were in front for just seven minutes, Thai captain Teerasil Dangda restoring parity by bravely heading home a Theerathon Bunmathan free kick.
But Chhetri drilled his second of the game moments into the second half following a lung-bursting run down the right from Udanta Singh.
Things got worse for Thailand when Anirudh Thapa chipped in a third in the 68th minute before substitute Jeje Lalpekhlua completed the rout to leave India as unlikely group leaders.
Hosts United Arab Emirates were held 1-1 by Bahrain in Saturday's curtain-raiser.
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An acrobatic first-half effort from Cleiton Silva (24th) handed Bengaluru the lead before substitute Lalthathanga Khawlhring netted an equaliser (73rd) for Kerala Blasters.
The match saw both teams failing to convert clear-cut chances. That Odisha had three shots on target while Chennaiyin managed just two exemplified how much both sides cancelled out each other.