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Sunil Chhetri was the hero as India recorded a famous 4-1 win over Thailand to open their Asian Cup campaign in style.
India's record scorer Chhetri, 34, netted twice - his 66th and 67th strikes for his country - before Anirudh Thapa's first international goal and an effort from substitute Jeje Lalpekhlua put the result beyond doubt.
Teerasil Dangda, the lone survivor from Thailand's last Asian Cup appearance in 2007, briefly levelled the match in a first half his side edged, but Stephen Constantine's side were completely dominant after the break and deserving winners.
India had one draw and six defeats from their last seven Asian Cup games, but are now well placed at the top of Group A as they bid to reach the knockout stages for the first time since 1964.
Thailand, meanwhile, have won just one of their last 21 Asian Cup games following the morale-denting defeat at Al Nahyan Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
They had made the better start and came close when Adisak Kraisorn forced a close-range save from India captain Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.
But, against the run of play, a controversial refereeing decision turned the game in India's favour. Ashique Kuruniyan had a shot saved by Chatchai Budprom and the ball rebounded off the arm of defender Theerathon Bunmathan, who was in close proximity.
That resulted in a spot-kick, from which the veteran Chhetri coolly sent Budprom the wrong way to earn a 27th-minute lead.
Bunmathan redeemed himself just six minutes later as his curling free-kick was headed in by Dangda over a poorly positioned Sandhu.
A back-and-forth clash saw Chhetri strike again just 55 seconds into the second half, firing a fine first-time strike from 18 yards into the top-left corner after Kuruniyan and Udanta Singh had set him up.
Chhetri headed just off target as he sought a hat-trick, but Thapa sealed victory after 68 minutes, producing a superb dinked finish after a neat assist from Singh.
Lalpekhlua was the next man to beat Budprom with 10 minutes left, converting Halicharan Narzary's pass to put India top of a pool that also contains hosts UAE and Bahrain.
Goal! Substitute Jeje Lalpekhlua puts India 4-1 up!
Anirudh Thapa puts the tie beyond doubt for India!
Goal! India take the lead! That man Sunil Chhetri again!
Goal! Teerasil Dangda levels the scores! A tidy header from the Thailand captain!
Goal! Sunil Chhetri opens the scoring for India from the penalty spot!
Thai fans are about to cheer their team to glory! Do you think the War Elephants (best nickname in international football) have what it takes to beat India?!
ที่สนามพร้อมแล้ว ทีมหน้าจอพร้อมหรือยัง? #ช้างศึกเบอร์12 #CheerThai #ช้างศึก #เชียร์ไทยใจเดียวกัน #TogetherAsOne #Thailand #Asiancup2019 #ฟุตบอลไทย #บอลไทย #ฟุตบอลทีมชาติไทย #นักฟุตบอลทีมชาติไทย #THAIND #India pic.twitter.com/j5LEuMT93c— Changsuek (@Changsuek_TH) January 6, 2019
Inside the Indian dressing room! We are 15 minutes away from the start of the match!
Confirmation, Again then from the AFC! We are 25 minutes away from the action in Abu Dhabi!
We have the team news! Sunil Chhetri grabs the captain's armband for India! Keep an eye for Thai playmaker Chanathip Songkrasin, he's nicknamed "Messi Jay" expect him to be a threat for the South East Asian side!
Expect a lively crowd in Abu Dhabi! The Indian fans are expected to be out in force!
It's Matchday!@IndianFootball Team is pumped up to face Thailand Football Team in their opening encounter.#BackTheBlue #AsianDream #AFCAsianCup #BlueTigers #InquilabEIndianFootball pic.twitter.com/j0zkXAxsbi— Blue Pilgrims (@BluePilgrims) January 5, 2019
So here we go! India make their first appearance at the Asian Cup since Qatar 2011! Can the Blue Tigers cause an upset against Thailand? Legendary striker Sunil Chhetri has had his say to the AFC.
Good afternoon! Welcome to the Live Updates of Thailand Vs India! Thailand takes on India in Abu Dhabi in the second Group A game of the tournament. With both the UAE & Bahrain sharing the points in the opening game of the AFC Asian Cup, the emphasis is on both sides to get an opening win to kick-start their campaign. As ever, keep up to date on the blog, where we will bring you all the latest build-up, team news & goals as they go in!