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Goa: Jeje Lalpekhlua struck midway through the second half as already qualified India maintained their unbeaten record in the final round of qualifying for the AFC Asian Cup 2019 with a hard-fought 2-2 draw with Myanmar on Tuesday.

With a place in the 2019 tournament already secured after India won the first four games in Group A, the home side fell inside the first minute at Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium as Yan Naing Oo struck for Myanmar.

Captain Sunil Chhetri pulled India level after 13 minutes only for Kyaw Ko Ko to hit back for Myanmar six minutes later following an error from India goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.

But with Lalpekhlua finding the net nine minutes after the hour mark, Stephen Constantine’s side avoided a first defeat of the campaign, while Myanmar hit back following March’s 1-0 home defeat by India to claim a fifth point from four games.

But with the Kyrgyz Republic earlier recording a 4-3 win in Macau, Myanmar slipped two points off the pace in Group A with two games remaining with the pair battling for second place behind India.

Myanmar took the lead in the tie after just 13 seconds as Yan Naing Oo was on hand to head home Thein Than Win’s cross past a helpless Sandhu in the India goal.

The early goal gave the visitors the initiative and forced India onto the back foot, only for Myanmar to concede a needless penalty 12 minutes later as Chhetri picked himself up after being brought down to level the scores following a rare attack from the home side.

Myanmar, though, needed just six minutes to reclaim the lead as India goalkeeper Sandhu misjudged the flight of Kyaw Ko Ko’s seemingly innocuous long-range shot.

But India showed why they had already qualified for the Finals with two games to spare by hitting back midway through the second half as Eugenson Lyngdoh played in Lalpekhlua who produced a composed finish.

Photos: AFC 

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