New Delhi:Title contenders Syria lived up to their expectations, blanking Kyrgyzstan 2-0 in the second match of the Nehru Cup international football tournament here on Thursday.
Syria, the highest ranked side in the five-nation tournament with 95th spot at FIFA charts, dominated for most part of the match and could have won by a bigger margin had not they missed some clear chances at the floodlit Ambedkar Stadium here.
Star striker Mohammad Al Zino put Syria ahead in the ninth minute before Abdul Fatah Alaga made it 2-0 in the 71st minute in front of a sparse crowd and on a pitch which saw more ground passes due to reduced grass than on Wednesday after India coach Bob Houghton blamed his side's 0-1 loss to Lebanon to the playing surface.
Syria went on the offensive from the word go and could have gone ahead in the third minute but Abdul Alaga's right footer was blocked by the Kyrgyzstan goalkeeper Mahash Pavli. Six minutes later, Al Zino found the net heading in a nice chip from his strike partner Moutaz Kaildni from the top right of the box.
Al Zino had another strike at Kyrgyzstan goal in the 16th minute off a pass by midfielder Abdal Razaq Al Houssain but that went wide.
Al Houssain himself then made a solo run from the centre line in the 28th minute but wasted a chance by shooting wide. In the 35th minute, Al Zino was again in the thick of things but his fine low cross from the right was wasted as Kaildni's right footer was too feeble to test Pavli.
In contrast, the Kyrgyz attack was far and between with mispasses and lack of understanding. Whenever they made some fine moves, the final pass or the finishing touch was missing. Midfielder Zemhanuhin Anton and striker Murzaev Murlan worked hard in tandem but lacked support from his team-mates.
However, after the change of ends it looked like, for a while, Kyrgyzstan would play on equal terms against their more fancied rivals but it all changed in the 67th minute when Ablakimov Roman was given a red card by Indian referee Pratap Singh for dangerously foot-tapping Abdul Alaga.
With a man advantage, Syria immediately threatened the Kyrgyz goal in the 70th minute. Al Zino, who was everywhere upfront, sent a precise cross from the irght only for Abdul Alaga to head straight into the goalkeeper.
Next minute, Alaga made amends for his mistake and collecting a pass from Al Zino he rounded off the advancing Kyrgyz custodian Pavli and slotted the ball into the empty net with a left footer.
At the end of the regulation time, Syria were denied another goal as Al Houssain's right footer hit the post. Syria next play Sri Lanka on Sunday while Kyrgyzstan take on hosts India the day before.