Alwyn George scored the lone goal as India went down fighting 1-2 against Iraq in their second match of the U-22 AFC Championship at the Royal Oman Police Stadium, in Muscat.
Iraq captain Ali Mohammed Alialah headed in a Jawad Kadhim cross in the 35th minute after the latter sneaked into the box past Vishal Kumar. Ammar Abdul Hussein scored the second goal for Iraq in the 49th minute.
Alwyn George pulled one back for India in the 82nd minute.
Captain and striker Jeje Lalpekhlua limped off in the 38th minute and substitute Holicharan Narzary almost scored off his first touch with the ball -- his header just off target.
His partner Manandeep was a man possessed. His passion reflected as he never shied away from tackles, making those off the ball runs and chased like everything depended on it.
In the 42nd minute, he almost scored but Alialah was able to deflect it the last moment for a corner.
At the change of ends, Iraq doubled the lead almost immediately, in the 49th minute, through Ammar Abdul Hussein.
Despite down by two goals, India didn't panic. Rather, they regrouped.
After a string of passes in the 69th minute, Lalrindika Ralte's long-ranger almost beat the diving rival goalkeeper Yaseen Yas but Yas managed to palm it away for a corner. In the very next minute, Dika's free-kick hit the wall.
India pressed and soon Dika and Allwyn's one-twos had the Iraqis guessing. In the 75th minute, Manandeep tried to tap in between the two stoppers but Yasees was quick to react.
The Iraqis tried to slow down the game in the last quarter but Alwyn was too good for them. He shrugged off three defenders and tap it over an onrushing Yaseen in the 82nd minute.
India went all out for the remainder of the match but Iraq managed to hold on. A handball appeal was ruled out.
India next play United Arab Emirates on July 28.