Intercontinental Cup 2019: Sunil Chhetri's brace goes in vain as Tajikistan thump India 4-2 in tournament opener
Tajikistan scored four goals in the second half, taking advantage of India's poor defending, to grab all three points from the first match.
India conceded four goals in second half to blow away a 2-0 lead
Sunil Chhetri scored two goals in second half to give India 2-0 lead
India's next match is against North Korea on 13 July
Tajikistan scripted a sensational comeback to beat India 4-2 in the first match of the Intercontinental Cup at the EKA Arena in Ahmedabad, on Sunday.
Defending champions India made the best start possible on the night with veteran Sunil Chhetri scoring a brace in the first-half but the visitors scored four goals in the second half, taking advantage of India's poor defending, to grab all three points from the first match.
As early as in the third minute, Mandar Rao Dessai played Lallianzuala Chhangte through inside the box. The left winger came under a heavy challenge as the referee pointed to the spot. Captain Chhetri stepped up to the spot and placed a Panenka into the top-right corner to hand India the early lead.
Tajikistan took some initiative after conceding early and went on to put some pressure on the Indian defense. However, Anirudh Thapa and Amarjit Singh Kiyam stepped up their defensive game to foil the opportunities.
A little after the quarter hour mark, Tajikistan had the perfect opportunity to equalise, when Komron Tursonov went through on goal. However, his shot went inches wide of goal. A little after the half-hour mark, Adil Khan defended brilliantly to keep India ahead as he cleared a header after a melee inside the box.
Chhetri put India two goals ahead just minutes before the half-time whistle, netting his 70th goal in International football. Udanta galloped down the right wing right up to the goal-line, sold a dummy and crossed it in. His cross had a bit too much power, but Chhangte managed to get on to the ball on the far left flank. The winger placed a perfect low cross at Chhetri’s feet, who toe-poked it into the top-left corner.
Tajikistan came out with great gusto in the second half, and pulled one back within the first 10 minutes of the restart. Komron Tursonov was played through on goal, as he galloped past the defence. While his initial shot was blocked by India keeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, he got on the rebound and scored from a tight angle.
Tursonov played a vital part in the second goal for his side, as his cross from the right found Sheriddin Boboev who merely hat to tap it in past Adil and Gurpreet. Soon after, Muhammadjon Rahimov powered through the defence and slotted it past Gurpreet to put Tajikistan in the lead.
Tajikistan had more, Panshanbe Ehsoni crossed it in for substitute Shahrom Samiev to volley it in for the fourth.
India’s second-half substitute Rowllin Borges, who replaced Sahal, had the opportunity to pull one back when Udanta played the cross to him, but the midfielder skied his effort, as the match ended with a two-goal victory for Tajikistan with the full-time scoreline reading 4-2.
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It was in November 2019 that the Blue Tigers last played at the international arena — in the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers against Afghanistan (in Tajikistan) and Oman (in Muscat).