New Delhi: The expected flare up at the Ambedkar Stadium occurred, but only for a brief period on Thursday as Syria beat Lebanon 1-0 in a rather insipid encounter of the ONGC Nehru Cup.
The Syrian victory also brought cheer to the Indian fans as it almost ensures the hosts entry into the final. While Syria are firmly placed on the top of the round robin league table with nine points from three matches, India are second with six points from three matches.
Lebanon, who were looking for three points from this match to stay in contention, are now out of the competition with four points from as many matches. The only way things may go against India would be if Sri Lanka manage a big win against Kyrgyzstan on Friday to pip India on goal difference. That, though, looks highly improbable as the home team, with a goal difference of plus two, are ahead of the Lankans (minus five) at the moment.
The tension, due to years of political rivalry between the two countries, came out midway through the second half when Lebanons Akram Moghrabi went to ground in the rival box and his teammates rushed to the Indian referee demanding a penalty.
Referee Arumughan Rowan, however, was in no mood to oblige and was pushed around by at least three Lebanon players. Peace was restored after much persuasion but only for a short while.
A couple of minutes later Alaa Alshbi of Syria and Lebanons Mohammed Korhani were involved in yet another run-in that threatened to take an ugly turn. The referee managed to separate the two, but surprisingly did not produce any cards to warn the players.
Syrias goal came in the 22nd minute of the first half through Mohammed Alzino, who flicked home a cross from the left.
Syria: Mosab Balhous; Belal Abdul Abdul Daim, Ali Dyab and Feras Ismail; Moutaz Kaildni (Raje Rafe, 35th), Alaa Alshbi, Ahmad Haj Mohammed (Jwan Hisso, 85th), Abdal Razak Al Housain and Wael Ayan; Mohammed Alzino and Abdul Fatah Alaga (Hamzeh Alattouni, 67th).
Lebanon: Lary Mehanna; Ali Hamam (Baker Younis, 80th), Bilal El Najjarine, Ali Al Saadi and Mohammed Korhani; Amer Khan, Ali Yaakoub, Hassan Maatouk (Sussein Dakik, 86th) and Abbas Ahmad Atwi; Akram Moghrabi and Mohammed El Ali.
Referee: A. Rowan (India).
MoM: Mohammed Alzino
Fridays match: Sri Lanka vs Kyrgyzstan. (6.30pm)