Farukh Choudhary and captain Sunil Chhetri scored a goal each as India defeated Nepal 2-1 in their second international friendly at the Dasharath Stadium here on Sunday.
India began the first half well, with Bipin Singh penetrating through the Nepal backline from the left flank on several occasions. In the sixth minute, he played in a looping ball for an onrushing Manvir Singh to head but Kiran Limbu came charging off his line to collect.
Another Bipin cross put Nepali under pressure in the 24th minute as Anirudh Thapa looked to bring the ball under his control inside the penalty area but before he could take the shot, goalkeeper Kiran came out and cleared the ball.
As the home team sat back and looked to defend deep, the Blue Tigers continued to press for the opening goal. Thapa, who had found the net for India in the previous friendly three days ago, entered the penalty area from the right in the 29th minute and fizzed in a low cross with Sunil Chhetri waiting at the back post, only for Ananta Tamang to save the day with a last-ditch sliding tackle.
Manvir Singh, playing down the right flank, clipped in a cross with five minutes to go in the first half, which was flicked on by Rahim Ali for Bipin, who headed the ball back across the goal for Sunil but it is cleared away for a corner. With a minute of regulation time left to play in the first half, Sunil blasted a shot over the bar.
The first half also saw Nepal cause danger to the Indian goal on a couple of occasions. In the 13th minute, Manish Dangi found himself in space in the penalty area but Chinglensana tracked back and was alert to the danger to stop the shot.
After the break, India continued their hunt for the opener and created threats from both flanks, with the Nepal goalkeeper called into action on multiple occasions. Head coach Igor Stimac brought in Farukh Choudhary to replace Bipin at the break and it was the substitute who broke the deadlock with a calm finish in the 62nd minute.
Chinglensana swung in a curling cross from the left, which Sunil laid perfectly into the path of an unmarked Choudhary, who placed it past the keeper and into the corner to give the Blue Tigers the lead.
As the match approached its critical stage, Chhetri doubled the Blue Tigers’ advantage with a trademark finish – polishing off a fantastic counterattack. It was Nepal who were putting pressure with a free-kick in a dangerous area but Amrinder collected and played the ball to Thapa on the halfway line, who headed it on for a charging Chhetri. The Indian skipper calmly approached the goal and sent Kiran the wrong way, before slotting the ball home to make it 2-0.
Just as the match neared the end, the home team scored in the 87th minute through Tej Tamang, who powered home a venomous shot from 30 yards. Five minutes were added by the referee but the Blue Tigers saw them off with ease and clinched the win.