Ahmedabad, July 16 (IANS) India were held to a 1-1 draw by Syria in their final Intercontinental Cup match in Ahmedabad on on Tuesday. Narinder Gahlot (18) scored in the 51st minute while Syrua struck back with skipper Firas Al-Khatib converting a penalty in the 78th minute.
Having lost both their previous matches to Tajikistan and North Korea, India were already out of contention for a spot in the final while Syria needed a win to get there.
India played much of the game with more cohesion than they showed in the previous two matches, both of which exposed defensive frailties for new coach Igor Stimac to solve. The two sides traded blows for what turned out to be a goalless first half.
In the 51st minute, Anirudh Thapa sent in a corner kick from the right. Gahlot rose above the rest and headed the ball in and scored his first goal in his second international outing.
India looked to be on top after that. While chances were few and far in between, India dominated possession in midfield and kept the pressure on the Syrians. However, this changed after a rather rash tackle by Jerry Lalrinzuala, who had replaced Mandaro Rao Desai only a few minutes earlier, forced the referee to give Syria a penalty. Firas stepped up and made no mistake with the spot kick.
India lived dangerously after that and saw off waves of Syrian attack to win a point at the end of the game.