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Bengaluru: India qualified for the AFC Asian Cup for only the fourth time in their history and first since 2011 as Wednesday’s 4-1 win over Macau saw Stephen Constantine’s side maintain a 100 percent record in Group A.

Rowllin Borges opened the scoring for the home side at Sree Kanteerava Stadium with a deflected shot only for Niki Torrao to net for Macau before half-time with the first goal conceded by India in the final round of 2019 qualifiers.

But with captain Sunil Chhetri restoring India’s lead on the hour mark, an own goal from Macau’s Lam Ka-seng and a last-minute strike from Jeje Lalpekhlua saw India claim a fourth win in as many games to secure a top-two position, after the Kyrgyz Republic and Myanmar shared a 2-2 draw on Tuesday.

Looking to build on last month’s 2-0 win in Macau, India started strongly with Chhetri and Jackichand Singh creating the best of the early chances for the hosts.

And with 28 minutes on the clock, India took the lead as Lalpekhlua laid the ball back for Borges (picture above, left) inside the area, and after taking a touch to create a yard of space, the midfielder saw his strike take a key deflection to completely wrongfoot visiting goalkeeper Ho Man-fai.

India kept up the pressure in search of a second, but eight minutes before half-time the visitors levelled the scores through a header from Torrao.

Despite the setback, India maintained the pressure at the start of the second half as only a superb save from Macau goalkeeper Ho kept out a header from Sandesh Jhingan four minutes before the hour mark.

India, though, reclaimed the lead four minutes later as the home side charged upfield and Lalpekhlua fed Balwant Singh, who unselfishly squared the ball for Chhetri (picture above, left) with Macau short in numbers at the back for the captain to find the net at the far post with Ho drawn out of position.

India made sure of the win which ensured Constantine’s side added to previous AFC Asian Cup appearances in 1964, 1984 and 2011 as Lam attempted to clear Halicharan Narzary’s cross towards the near post but only managed to scuff his effort and send the ball looping over the head of Ho with 20 minutes remaining.

There was, though, still time for the home side to add a fourth in the last minute of normal time as Lalpekhlua found the net with Chhetri providing the assist.

Photos: AFP