Intercontinental Cup: Patchy India suffer 1-2 defeat against New Zealand

Jun 08, 2018, 09:36 IST | Noel D'Souza

In the 47th minute, after receiving a back pass, Woud left his line and slammed it right into Sunil Chhetri’s leg, who made no mistake to score in seven consecutive home games. That was the only eureka moment for over eight thousand fans

Intercontinental Cup: Patchy India suffer 1-2 defeat against New Zealand
India's Sunil Chhetri (centre) battles for the ball with a New Zealand player during the Intercontinental Cup tie in Andheri yesterday. Pic/PTI

Strange, but true! It was a New Zealand midfielder of Indian origin, Sarpreet Singh, who spoilt the party for the hosts by setting up two brilliant goals to see the All Whites score a 2-1 victory in the Intercontinental Cup at Mumbai Football Arena in Andheri yesterday.

Courtesy, assists from Sarpreet’s, 19, and left foot, goals from Andre De Jong (49th min) and substitute Moses Dyer (86th) saw a young, resolute New Zealand side dominate a Indian outfit. Skipper Sunil Chhetri was the lone scorer for hosts Blue Tigers, but that was not after Kiwi goalkeeper Michael Woud replicated a Loris Karius moment.

In the 47th minute, after receiving a back pass, Woud left his line and slammed it right into Chhetri’s leg, who made no mistake to score in seven consecutive home games. That was the only eureka moment for over eight thousand fans.

First defeat at Andheri
The Blue Tigers, already in the final after back-to-back wins against Chinese Taipei and Kenya, tasted defeat for the first time at this venue. They looked patchy all through the match, possibly due to coach Stephen Constantine making seven changes, including striker Jeje Lalpekhlua, playing in his 50th match, who was made to sit on the bench. New Zealand, on the other hand, who landed on Indian shores with a second string side, displayed solid grit especially in midfield. That showed in the equaliser.

Sizzling Sarpreet
A minute after India took the lead, Sarpreet fed a good through ball to De Jong. Indian ’keeper Amrinder was beaten as the home side conceded their first goal in the tournament. Observing that his second string weren’t doing the job, Constantine introduced his regulars after the lemon break. Balwant Singh, Rowlin Borges and Ashique Kuruniyan making way for Jeje Lalpekhlua, Pranoy Halder and Halicharan Narzary respectively. India began to show some character in the game.

From the 65th minute onwards, they started building momentum. Udanta was looking dangerous down the right flank, but the two Kiwi defenders Samuel Brotherton and Nikko Boxall did a good job to neutralise the opposition attack. In the 86th minute, Moses Dyer sealed the scoreline with a winner, but it was Sarpreet who negotiated three Indian defenders with ease. The midfielder’s deft touch to his teammate was a peach.

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