Port Villa: The India U-19 national football team defeated hosts Vanuatu by 1-0 to win the first game of their tournament campaign here at the Korman Stadium on Sunday. Sumit Rathi's late goal turned out to be the difference between the two sides.
India begin the game on a positive, going out all guns blazing. India could have earned the lead as early as the 3rd minute of the match when Aman Chetri entered into the box to shoot from a close range, but his shot agonizingly crashed against the crossbar.
In the 7th minute Jayson from the opposite end tried his luck from left but was unable to pose any threat to Indian goal. The visitors kept control of the game and pushed back the hosts in their own half. In the 22nd minute Vikram Partap Singh tried to cross a ball into the box but was intercepted by the opposition keeper.
The keeper made yet another great save in the 31st minute to diffuse an Indian attack. In the 35th minute, Vikram was again posing a threat to the hosts as he received a long ball from Ninthoi and tried to cut in but opposition defender cleared it, resulting in a corner. Ninthoi took a short corner but the attempt at the goal with the build up was repelled, and the scoreline remained in unchanged at the stroke of halftime.
Things continued in the second half the way it was in the first. India dominated the possession but lacked cutting edge in the final third. The hosts maintained a defensive shape, looking to attack in the counter.
In the 58th minute, Ninthoi had a golden opportunity to put India in the lead when he had the chance to shoot from inside the box at the end of a neat move, but he shot it wide. The attack from the visitors continued. India had back-to-back corners in the 61st minute but couldn't convert any of the two into a lead.
The visitors however, finally broke the deadlock in the 78th minute. Givson rolled a ball to an onrushing Vikram who made a long pass to Sumit Rathi who then got the lead for the Blue Tigers with a neat finish. The hosts had little time to restore parity but India thwarted off their attempts to win the game.