India were denied at the death, with Oman's Al-Mandhar Al Alawi scoring two goals in the last 10 minutes to give the visitors a come-from-behind 2-1 win in their opening encounter of the 2022 World Cup and 2023 AFC Asian Cup qualifying group game in Guwahati.
Al-Mandhar scored in the 82nd and 90th minutes to overturn a superb Sunil Chhetri strike in the 24th minute that had ignited Indian hopes in a bright first half performance. Oman were deserving winners on the whole, especially in a pacy second half where they inserted their forwards early and played with greater purpose.
India could have scored before they eventually did, with Udanta Singh hitting the crossbar in the 15th minute, and Sandesh Jhingan coming close with a header off a corner in the 20th minute.
In the 24th minute, Brandon Fernandes took a free-kick from the left edge of the penalty box, and slid it in low towards the penalty area. Chhetri tracked back, virtually unmarked, and unleashed a vicious low left-footed shot low to the left of goalkeeper Faiyz Al Rusheidi to put India ahead.
Oman had chances in the first half too, with striker Abdulaziz Al Maqbali coming close to scoring with a point-blank header in the 43rd minute, but he was denied by Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, who had a terrific outing for India. Sandhu would leap to India's defence again in the 54th minute, tipping away a miscued Anirudh Thapa interception that was threatening to sneak into the top left corner, and then subsequently another header from Al Maqbali.
In the 82nd minute, as Indian defenders began tiring, a long ball from the right allowed Al-Mandhar to shrug off right-back Rahul Bheke and chip the ball over an advancing Sandhu. Al-Mandhar would then seal a terrific win by running past Bheke along the left, weaving in and curling a flat right-footer past Sandhu.
India will play Asian champions and 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar away in their next match on September 10.
Here's how the game panned out. (Blog will appear below. Please give it a few moments to load. If it doesn't load, try refreshing or click here)