India’s slim hopes of advancing to the next round of the 2018 World Cup qualifiers were all but ended by Iran on Tuesday (8).
Goals from Sardar Azmoun, Andranik Teymourian and Mehdi Taremi gave Carlos Quieroz’s side an easy 3-0 win over in Bangalore and inflict India’s third straight group defeat.
Stephen Constantine’s squad held the Asian giants at bay for the first half-hour in a must-win game after earlier losses to Oman and Guam, but lacked the quality to test Alireza Haghighi in the Iran goal.
Azmoun opened the scoring with a neat header from Teymourian’s free kick to take a 1-0 lead into the break.
India’s chances of a comeback were dashed by two quick-fire goals in the second half.
First, Indian goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and full back Narayan Das failed to deal with a hopeful clearance, allowing Taremi to keep the ball in play and set up skipper Teymourian (46), who fired home.
Three minutes later there was more sloppy defending as Pronay Halder misjudged Azmoun’s attempted pass into the box, allowing Omid Ebrahimi to assist Taremi’s close range effort.
Iran, ranked 40th in the world, 115 places above their opponents, created 16 goal attempts to India’s six and could have stretched their lead even further late on.
Alarmingly for the home team, the attacking front three of Sunil Chhetri, Robin Singh and Jeje Lalpekhlua failed to hit the target even once.
Constantine made two changes to the side that drew 0-0 with Nepal in a friendly days earlier, with goalkeeper Subrata Paul and Francis Fernandes dropping to the bench to make way for Arnab Mondal and Sandhu.
The home side lined up in a 4-3-3 formation, but after a decent start it was another abject display for India, who now lie bottom of the group without a point.
Their next match is in Turkmenistan on October 8.