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Pakistan stun arch rivals India, level 1st football series in almost a decade

Bangalore: Pakistan pulled off a surprise 2-0 win over India Wednesday, with a late goal from Saddam Hussain ensuring them a share of the spoils in the first football series between the arch rivals for almost a decade. Pakistan's captain Kaleemullah put his side ahead in the 38th minute and a scrambled shot by Hussain in the 89th minute silenced the 5,000 Indian spectators at the Bangalore Football Stadium.

The home fans had been hoping for more of the same after India won the first match on Sunday 1-0, at the start of the first series between the South Asian neighbours since India toured Pakistan in 2005. India suspended all sporting ties with Pakistan following the deadly 2008 attacks on Mumbai, blamed on militants from across the border. However the two countries have played each other in a variety of sports in the last few years, including cricket.

Pakistani football team captain Kaleem Ullah (R) with teammate Abdul Salam celebrate their two-goal victory against India in their second friendly football match in Bangalore at the Karnataka State Football Association Stadium in Bangalore on Wednesday. AFP

India came close to opening the scoring when a dipping long-range effort by skipper Sunil Chhetri was palmed away by Pakistan's goalkeeper Muzamil Husain. Chhetri set up debutant Haokip Thonhkosiem to score in the 37th minute, only to see his attempt saved by Husain. Francis Fernandes then squandered a golden opportunity to score off the rebound.

A minute later Pakistan went ahead when Kaleemullah swept home a free kick after being brought down by Indian midfielder Lalrindika Ralte just outside the box. India swarmed forward in the second half in an increasingly desperate bid to find an equaliser but could not breach a determined Pakistani defence. Their hopes were finally extinguished when Hussain poked the ball home after a solo run into the Indian penalty box.

The players hugged and shook hands on the final whistle before the Pakistani team took a victory lap, waving their national flag. The teams are next set to compete in the Asian Games starting in South Korea next month. India are 150th in FIFA's world rankings while Pakistan languish further down in 164th spot.

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