International friendly: Chhetri scores the only goal to fetch victory for the Blues
The former East Bengal striker made all the difference as the first ever clash between the India and Pakistan on Indian soil ends 1-0 in the BFC stadium, Bengaluru.
A much awaited and speculated football match between the two neighbors saw political delegates gather on the field and wish for Indo-Pak peace through football. Indian boys played in their traditional blue shirts Pakistan on the other hand wore white.
First few minutes of the match saw Pakistan having most the build ups but were unable to penetrate as India centre back Sandesh held the fort well. First shot of the match although came from Indian midfielder Pranoy Halder’s foot as he tried to volley from outside of the box and was unable to test the goalkeeper.
Pakistanis kept on searching for the first blood as the Blue tigers had some momentary lack of concentration in the defense when Saddam Hussain striked but was way off-target.
In the 38th minute brilliant cross from Narayan Das saw Robin Singh almost claiming the ball as the goalie came ahead for a challenge but lost it, Chhetri had open net in front of him but somehow managed to hit the grounded goalkeeper. The game gained more flare as Pakistan went on counter attack and were awarded a corner which almost broke the deadlock, Amarjit did not do well enough to fist the ball out of danger zone and Narayan Das was required to make a goal line save from a week volley in the 44th minute.
India on the other end made full use of a 45th minute corner and Robin Singh headed a Ralte corner which hit the second post but his Bengaluru F.C team mate Chhetri was spot on to tap the returning ball to send it to the back of the net.
India went to the dressing room 1-0 up with only worry being the yellow card shown to the goal scorer on the half hour mark.
In the second half both teams looked balanced and attacking, Pakistan starting the first round of gunfire when skipper Kaleem ullah had a header from point blank range and Amarjit was required again to held on to their slender lead.
On the other half of the pitch Desai continually searched for space, Chhetri and Robin exchanged balls now and then and Ralte started dominating the midfield as Chhetri had two back to back chance to increase his goal tally twice but both shots were aimless.
In the 70th minute Robin Singh was shown the way out by the referee in what was a rather doubtful second yellow, but India continued their attacks as Len came to the field in place of Francis and Chhetri sent one more ball into the gallery.
The men in white began rigorous searching for the equalizer as Sandesh was replaced by Shankar in the deep defense due to cramp.The Shaheen skipper chested a cross beautifully but instead of passing to Mansoor shot himself but was off target , Riaz a minute later, went for the glory but all his efforts went in vain again .
After 4 minutes of injury time the match ended as India held on to their nerves claiming the victory. The teams will again face themselves in the 2nd match of this tour on Wednesday in the same venue.