Bangalore: India defeated Pakistan 1-0 yesterday in an emotionally-charged opener to take the lead in a two-match football series, the first between the arch-rivals for nine years.
India's Robin Singh (second from right) heads the ball towards the Pakistani goal at Bangalore's Karnataka State Football Association Stadium yesterday. Pic/AFP
The hosts hung on to their slender lead after scoring in the 44th minute in front of thousands of cheering home fans at the Bangalore Football Stadium.
India captain Sunil Chhetri tapped the ball in after Robin Singh's flick off a Lalrindika Ralte corner hit the post. However, the match commissioner strangely awarded the goal to Robin.
Pakistan dominated the proceedings initially but the Indians regrouped to launch a counter-attack.
Midfielder Pronoy Halder came close to scoring in the 16th minute, only to be thwarted by Pakistan goalkeeper Muzammil Hussain.
The hosts squandered at least three more scoring chances before taking the lead. Pakistan nearly equalised early in the second half, but 'keeper Amrinder Singh did well to stop captain Kalleemullah's close-range header from going into the net.
India were reduced to 10 men when Robin received his second yellow card of the game. The lanky striker shook his head in disappointment as he walked off the field.
Tempers became frayed on a number of occasions and angry words were exchanged, reflecting the high tensions associated with sporting clashes between India and Pakistan.
The football series is the first since India toured Pakistan in 2005 in a three-match contest.
India suspended sporting ties with its neighbour in the aftermath of the deadly 2008 attacks on Mumbai, blamed on militants from Pakistan.