2019 AFC Asian Cup Qualifier: Macau 0-2 India: Balwant Singh’s brace helps Blue Tigers close in on Asian dream Swapnaneel Parasar Last updated 2 years ago 19:35 9/5/17 AIFF Media Second half substitute Balwant Singh helped save India’s blushes after a wasteful first half display in Asia’s Sin City… India continued its winning streak in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup third round qualification after they defeated Macau 0-2 away from home at the Estadio Campo Desportivo on Tuesday.Balwant Singh (57′, 82′) came off from the bench after half time and scored twice, ensuring all three points for his team, and stretched the Blue Tigers’ lead in Group A to six points.Going into the game, India were boosted by the return of captain Sunil Chhetri to the mix along with his Bengaluru FC teammates Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and Udanta Singh. All three started as Stephen Constantine decided to go for the lone striker in Jeje Lalpekhlua as Eugeneson Lyngdoh and Rowllin Borges manned the midfield in a 4-2-3-1 formation.Macau’s Chan Hiu Ming stacked his team with five defenders as they started with a 5-4-1 system. Carlos Leonel Gois was the lone man up top as shockingly, star striker Leong Ka Hang remained on the bench. The host’s ideology as soon as the whistle blew was simple – to restrict the opposition in entirety as Macau had all bodies inside its own third for the first quarter of an hour.India, enjoying the lion’s share of possession still turned up wasteful. After being unable to break the resolute Macanese defence, it was Sunil Chhetri who finally sniffed some opportunity but his shot from outside the area was blocked by a school of defenders in the 19th minute. Two minutes from the half hour mark, it was the skipper again who picked the ball from the edge of the box but his attempt was off target. Macau finally displayed some attacking nous and won a free kick from the edge of the box, which Choi Chan In squandered, much to the glee of Gurpreet.The best chance for India in the first half came through Eugeneson Lyngdoh’s long range effort which rattled the crossbar, and the rebound couldn’t be converted by Halicharan Narzary.Jeje Lalpekhlua was at blame for more than a couple of occasions in the first period as his presence up front failed to breach Macau’s solidity at the back. Stephen Constantine’s men were shut down by a purposive Macau defense and the inability of his forward men to convert from easy chances had the Briton asking tough questions during the half time break.Both coaches played their cards post the breather as they made similar changes. Leong Ka Hang came on for Pang Chi Hang and Eugeneson Lyngdoh was sacrificed for a striker in Balwant Singh.Pritam Kotal, with reinvigoured gusto, took it upon himself to lift up his team’s sorry return in the game. A couple of deadly crosses from the right channel helped perturb The Greens. Balwant Singh turned out to be the fox in the box, breaking the deadlock after he found Macau skipper Paulo Cheang napping during Narayan Das’ delivery from the left, ultimately heading in a perfect number nine’s goal.Macau players, who mostly comprise from a semi-professional league set up, completely shut off after the goal, as if India had slid a dagger in their hearts. Jeje and Kotal tried to take advantage of that but failed in their endeavours to find a second.The second did come, in anomalous circumstances however. Defender Lam Ngai Tong failed to control a long ball he had intercepted from the Indian midfield and nudged it onto an onrushing Balwant Singh.Hoshiarpur-born Balwant lobbed the ball over ‘keeper Ho Man Fai who was nowhere near his line, successfully scoring his third goal for the national side in his last three games – all coming from the bench.Germanpreet Singh and Jackichand Singh were given a run out in the dying embers of the game as the opposition, funnily enough, did not register a single shot on target during the game. With the win, India opened up a six point lead at the top of the group, with three games to go. On an unbeaten streak for the last eleven games, India will host Macau in Bengaluru for the return fixture on 10th October only after facing Palestine in a friendly on 2nd October in Mumbai.Earlier, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) confirmed that the other game in the group, where Kyrgyzstan played host to Myanmar was postponed due to increased security concerns as advised by the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic to the nation’s football federation.