Jeje Lalpekhlua continued his free-scoring form, netting a brace to inspire the Indian football team to a 6-1 second leg victory against Laos , ensuring progression to the 2019 Asian Cup’s third qualifying round with a 7-1 aggregate score.
India, who won the first away leg game 1-0 thanks to a Jeje goal, saw their advantage evaporate as Laos took the lead at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium through Khonesavanh Sihavong.
But India’s response was impressive and clinical, scoring through the in-form Jeje (43th, 74th minutes), youngster Sumit Passi (46th), Sandesh Jhingan (48th), Mohammed Rafique (83rd) and Fulganco Cardozo (87th).
The 163rd ranked Indians were seeking to extend the advantage gained at the first leg. But they were stunned when the visitors, ranked 11 rungs below them, netted in the 16th minute to level the aggregate score 1-1.
Sitthideth Khanthavong raced past a lax Rino Anto on the left flank and his well intended square pass into the box was well placed by Sihavong.
India were stung into action after conceding and they applied themselves in a greater capacity, dominating possession and dictating the flow of action.
After several misses, they levelled in the 43rd minute inspired by an opportunistic Jeje who slotted a Jackichand Singh cross onto the bottom corner of the net.
It ensured India’s lead in the aggregate score and swung the fortune of the match decidedly towards the hosts.
An unmarked Passi strengthened that domination scoring just at the stroke of half-time, capitalising on another impressive Jakichand creation.
After the break it was all India as their superior attacking capability blew Laos away.
Coming forwards in numbers and attacking from both flanks, they tormented the helpless Laos defence and Sandesh Jhingan made it 3-1 (4-1 overall) with a feeble header in the 48th minute.
The tie was as good as done but Rafique and Cardozo also made merry, helping themselves to precious international goals even though more appreciated would have been a Jeje hat-trick.
But his fine left-footed volley rebounded off the bar to deny him a deserving feat in a successful match for India.