Sunil Chhetri goes past Lionel Messi as India record historic win at AFC Asian Cup 2019
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Sunil Chhetri goes past Lionel Messi as India record historic win at AFC Asian Cup 2019

Chhetri scored a goal in each half and in the process went past Argentine superstar Lionel Messi in the list of most goals scored by an active footballer on the international arena.

football Updated: Jan 06, 2019 21:28 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Sunil Chhetri,Lionel Messi,AFC Asian Cup
India's forward Sunil Chhetri celebrates his second goal during the AFC Asian Cup group A soccer match between Thailand and India at Al Nahyan Stadium in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.(AP)

Talismanic Indian striker Sunil Chhetri scored a brace as India thrashed Thailand 4-1 in their Asian Cup 2019 opener at the Al-Nahyan Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Sunday. Anirudh Thapa and Jeje Lalpekhlua also got on the scoresheet for the Blue Tigers in this memorable victory.

Also Read: AFC Asian Cup 2019, India vs Thailand, Highlights: As It Happened

Chhetri scored a goal in each half and in the process went past Argentine superstar Lionel Messi in the list of most goals scored by an active footballer on the international arena. Chhetri is now only behind Portuguese talisman Cristiano Ronaldo in this illustrious list.

85: Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)

67: Sunil Chhetri (India)

65: Lionel Messi (Argentina)

Chhetri’s heroics also helped India record their biggest win in Asian Cup history. Previously, India beat Hong Kong 3-1 in the 1964 edition of the tournament. Also, with four goals to his name, Chhetri now becomes the Indian player with most goals at Asia’s biggest continental tournament.

Chhetri opened the scoring for India in the 27th minute, converting from the penalty spot. But they were ahead for just seven minutes as Thai skipper Teerasil Dangda levelled the proceeding by heading home the ball past goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu from a Theerathon Bunmathan free kick.

India took the lead for the second time in the match right after the break when Chhetri fired the ball from the edge of the box after Udanta Singh did well to fire a cross in from the right wing.

The Blue tigers then extended their lead in the 68th minute as 21-year-old Anirudh Thapa chipped the goal-keeper to score his maiden goal for the national team.

Jeje Lalpheklua put icing on top of the cake as he hit a sublime lob from the edge of the box, minutes after coming on the pitch.

India lead their group A following this comprehensive win as hosts United Arab Emirates were held 1-1 by Bahrain on Saturday.

First Published: Jan 06, 2019 21:16 IST