New Delhi:India was beaten 3-2 by Syria in the ONGC Nehru Cup on Thursday.
Even though it was a loss, it was a terrific effort considering Syria was the pre-tournament favourites. This now means that India's last league match against Kyrgystan is a virtual semi-final.
A climb of 11 spots in the FIFA rankings perhaps spurred on the hosts as they took a surprising lead in the 13th minute when local boy Sunil Chhetri scored with a powerful right footer.
However that lead didn't last for too long. Syria, ranked 39 places above India, equalised in the 24th minute with Khaled Mansour al Chaba scoring off a corner.
Syria then dominated the game for the rest of the first half before finally going into the break 2-1 up, Zyad Chaboo tapping the ball into the back of the net.
Twenty minutes after the interval and Chaabo had his fourth goal of the tournament - a lucky deflection beating Indian keeper Subrata Paul as Syria looked to have sealed their place in the final.
India pulled one back in the 81st minute. K N Ajayan hit a great strike as India looked to fight back against the tournament favourites.
India continued to attack and Steven Dias nearly equalised in the 83rd minute, but his free kick went just wide of the post. The hosts ended up losing their first game of the tournament but it was'nt a bad effort given that Syria are the highest ranked team in the tournament.