India and Myanmar shared four goals at the Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Goa as a second-half goal from Jeje Lalpekhlua and a penalty from Sunil Chhetri ensured their unbeaten international run extended to 13 matches.
Having already secured their spot in the AFC Asian Cup in 2019, a point in Goa looked unlikely for India after Yan Niang Oo and Kyaw Ko Ko gave the visitors the lead twice on the night.
Germanpreet Singh came into the line-up at the expense of Rowllin Borges, who was nursing an injury. The home team went behind after just 12 seconds as Myanmar started the game in a hurry. The ball was sent wide from kick-off and a cross swung in from the left by Thein Than Win. Niang climbed highest in the penalty box heading it past Gurpreet Singh in goal as India were caught flat footed.
This was only the second goal that India conceded in their five games in this round of Asian Cup qualifying.
Sandesh Jhingan almost compounded India’s woes when his short back-pass to Gurpreet was intercepted by Kyaw who only had the keeper to beat. The Bengaluru FC custodian was up to the task as he kept the opposition forward’s shot out.
India were level on the stroke of 13 minutes as Sunil Chhetri was brought down in the box. The captain himself stepped up to take the penalty and took his tally of international goals to 56, sending the keeper the wrong way.
They were only level for six minutes as Kyaw was allowed to shoot from 20 yards. His shot squirmed under Gurpreet, as India let in a soft second to let Myanmar regain the lead.
It took a long ball from Eugeneson Lyngdoh to restore parity for India as the ATK midfielder found Jeje Lalpekhlua in space with only the keeper to beat. The Mizo sniper found the bottom corner with a neat finish as the game was locked at 2-2 with 20 minutes to go.
The home team could have had a winner when the referee signalled for an indirect free-kick inside the Myanmar box, after adjudging the keeper to have handled a backpass from one of his defenders. Chhetri slotted the kick into the net, but the referee correctly ruled it no-goal as Jeje did not touch the ball prior to the captain’s shot – a requirement for indirect free kicks.
Late on, Chhetri could have won it for India but shot over the bar after a 1-2 with Udanta Singh had let him in through on goal.
The game finished 2-2 as India remain top of the group with 13 points. Their last qualifier will be an away fixture against Kyrgyz Republic on March 27.