Chhetri’s goal helps India beat Vanuatu
Chhetri, who consolidated his position as the third-most prolific active player with his 86th-minute strike in his 135th international match, celebrated the goal by slipping the ball beneath his jersey and into his belly
BHUBANESWAR: India defeated low-ranked Vanuatu 1-0 in the Intercontinental Cup on Monday at the Kalinga Stadium, thanks to a lone strike from skipper Sunil Chhetri in the 81st minute. Chhetri scored in the 81st minute to calm the nerves of the Indians - both players and fans - and put the home team in a strong position to reach the final. India had defeated Mongolia 2-0 in its first match on Friday.
Chhetri, who consolidated his position as the third-most prolific active player with his 86th-minute strike in his 135th international match, celebrated the goal by slipping the ball beneath his jersey and into his belly. On the big screen, his wife Sonam was seen clapping.
India currently leads the table with six points from two victories. It plays Lebanon in its final round-robin league match on Thursday. The 101st-placed India clearly outplayed the opposition in the first half, with 62% ball possession and at least a dozen attempts on goal, the majority of which were off target. Vanuatu is ranked 164th in the world.
Nandhakumar Sekar, a debutant, had a good outing because he was in the thick of things in the middle of the park and was involved in several Indian build-ups.
In the 36th minute, he wasted India’s only real chance of the first session, hitting wide off a fine through ball from Mahesh Naorem. Another of Naorem’s measured crosses from the right found Chhetri in the clear in the 40th minute, but the ball flew inches above the India captain’s head with only the custodian ahead.
With halftime approaching, India pressed for a goal and was all over Vanuatu’s final third, but Igor Stimac’s side failed to score.
RESULT: India 1 (Chhetri 81) bt Vanuatu 0