Captain Suresh Singh Wangjam struck in injury time to help India come from behind and hold Saudi Arabia to a 3-3 draw in a Group A match of the AFC U16 football championships on Sunday.
India enjoyed a 2-1 lead in the first half through strikes from Aniket Anil Jadhav (5th minute) and Aman Chetri (23rd).
Saudi Arabia scored through Aldhuwayhi Abdulaziz in the 34th minute before substitute Albrikan Feras Tariq N found the net twice in quick succession in the 82nd and 83rd to put his team up.
But the home team did not lose heart and tried their best to find the equaliser and was awarded a penalty in injury time, which Suresh Singh Wangjam converted to split points.
There was more drama before the end of the final whistle as Saudi Arabia keeper Abdulaziz Almalki was red carded for abusing the referee.
Both the teams opened their account from Sunday’s draw and kept their chances alive for a place in the next round.
Saudi Arabia play UAE on September 21 while India face Iran the same day.
Both teams played an attacking game as they played quick shorts passes and made inroads into each other’s citadel.
India, who looked more dominating in the first half, kept probing from the left and met early success in the fifth minute.
Komal Thatal, who got the ball on the left, raced into the box and from the sideline relayed the ball to Aniket Anil Jadhav, who first controlled the ball and found the net with an angular left footer.
The goal acted as a tonic and the home team mounted pressure and once again found the net in a similar fashion in the 23rd minute.
Boris Singh Thangjam made a run down on the left and released the ball into the box for Aman Chetri, who made no mistake in finding the net with a low shot.
Saudi Arabia did not lose heart as the crawl back slowly and mounted pressure from the flanks and succeeded in reducing the margin in the 34th minute.
Dhari Alanazi from the left got the back of rival defender and send a high cross into the box which India’s defence failed to clear and Aldhuwayhi Abdulaziz headed in.
Two-time champions Saudi Arabai applied tremendous pressure in the last ten minutes before the break to find the equaliser and won a penalty but Mali’s kick was saved by the Indian goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem.
Saudi Arabia, who showed urgency, continued to mount pressure as they kept India on the back foot for most part of the second half but the home team’s defence led by custodian Dheeraj did well to keep the rivals at bay.
Saudi’s Mali had a glorious chance to find the equaliser but he drove the ball away from close.
Saudi Arabia maintained the pressure and scored two quick goals through Albrikan Feras Tariq N in the 82nd and 83rd to put his team up.
But the home team made a counter attack and was awarded a penalty which Suresh Wangjam scored.