Ahmedabad: Tajikistan completed a comeback to beat India 4-2 despite a good effort in the first half by the Blue Tigers, in the first match of the Hero Intercontinental Cup at the EKA Arena here on Sunday.
Sunil Chhetri scored a first-half brace, but Tajikistan struck back in the second half to score four goals and take the three points on the night. India had the perfect start to the Hero Intercontinental Cup that they would have been hoping for, as 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 Sunil 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 defence. In the 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 did brilliantly to keep India ahead as he cleared a header after a melee inside the box.
Chhetri put India two goals ahead just ahead 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 lar 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 putting India back in the game, 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 crossed it in to him, but the midfielder skied his effort, as the match ended with a two-goal victory for Tajikistan as the full-time scoreline read 4-2.