India pulled off a clinical 2-0 victory in its 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier match against Nepal at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, Guwahati. Sunil Chhetri scored both the goals as the Blue Tigers started off a new era under Stephan Constantine on a high note. Chhetri was rightly adjudged as the player of the match.
India Off To A Cold Start
India was hampered even before the kick-off as attacking midfielder Anthony D’Souza was ruled out due to an ankle injury he suffered during training on Monday. The home team though dominated once the whistle went off as they enjoyed greater possession. The first real chance of the match went Nepal’s way in the 25th minute when Bharat Khawas found his way into the box and delivered an accurate ball through to Bimal Magar. The 17-year-old almost beat India captain Subrata Paul to it but to no avail.
India Rue Missed Chances
India’s first real chance came just after half an hour when Chhetri’s long floated pass found Robin Singh, who in turn missed the target by a few inches. Couple of minutes later Robin came close again courtesy an expertly guided lob from Eugeneson Lyngdoh, but could only brush the side netting.
Sunil Chhetri was at it once again when his fine through ball found Francis Fernandes who found himself in a one on one situation with the Nepal custodian Chemzong. The latter however, pulled off a magnificent save as the teams descended down the tunnel to conclude a goalless first half.
Sunil Chhetri Nets Twin Strikes
Eight minutes into the second half, the former Indian captain broke the deadlock. Having had the ball in the midfield with goal in his sight, Chhetri swung a powerful left footer which rocked the net. India did not wait much longer to double the lead as Sunil Chhetri’s left footed pile driver proved to be too quick for goalkeeper Chemzong. Chhetri, however, missed a golden opportunity to score a hat-trick in the 80th minute as India was awarded a penalty when Cavin Lobo was brought down by Sandip Rai in the box.
First Step To FIFA World Cup Qualification
India is to meet Nepal for the second leg in Kathmandu, but the win at home will soothe Indian nerves. It’s all to play for as FIFA Qualifier also acts as a gateway for qualification to the Asian Cup 2019.