St. Petersburg: Kirill Kosarev's hattrick turned out to be enough to hand India U-19 National Team a loss to hosts Russia in their opening match of the XXXI Granatkin Memorial Tournament at the Petrovsky Stadium here on Tuesday.
Russians dominated in terms of possession from the beginning, and got an early opportunity to open the scoring in the 12th minute but Akash Mishra made goalline save to deny the hosts a lead. India made a great counter-attacking move in the 36th minute of the match but Ricky Shabong slipped on the edge of the penalty box which blew a chance for the Blue Tigers to earn a lead.
Indian defence led by Jitendra Singh and Muhammed Rafi, showedcomposure and maturity to soak in the pressures creaed by Russian attackers who were in numbers in India's half to keep the scoreline intact at half-time.
But the Russians soon after the break drew the first blood as Andrey Mazurin breezed past Shabas Ahammed to put it through to Kosarev who did no mistake hitting the target. The forward doubled the lead for the hosts in the 73rd minute when he exploited the gap between Jitendra and goalkeeper Prabhsukhan Gill to slot it home easily. After conceding from two blunders, India almost surrendered.
Nine minutes later, Kirill Kravtsov and Kosarev combined once again as Kosarev scored the third of the evening to put the final nail in the coffin. India will now take on Moldova in their second match of the tournament at the same venue on Thursday at 2:30 PM IST.