Despite having a numerical advantage for almost an entire half, Indian football team drew 1-1 with Bangladesh in its opening match of the SAFF Championship 2021 at the National Football Stadium, Male, Maldives, on Monday.
Sunil Chhetri scored India’s goal while Yeasin Arafat found the target for Bangladesh, who equalized after they were reduced to 10 men following the sending off of Biswanath Ghosh for a last-man foul on Liston Colaco.
India started on the front foot, with Colaco creating a couple of chances but Bangladesh grew into the game and looked threatening on the break. Chhetri broke the deadlock in the 27th minute following India's best move of the match. A couple of penetrating passes down the right flank saw Udanta Singh released into the penalty box from where he cut it back to Chhetri. The Indian skipper's movement was textbook, as was his finishing. He has now scored 76 goals for the national team.
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Bangladesh responded superbly after conceding, pressing India back into their own half, with Jamal Bhuyan's set-piece delivery a constant menace. In the 39th minute, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu was called into action after Rakib Hossain arrowed a shot at goal.
In the second half, Stimac brought on Brando Fernandes for Anirudh Thapa. India had the first chance of the half, after Chhetri dispossessed a dawdling Tariq Kazi at the edge of the box, but Kazi recovered well enough to prevent a shot on goal.
Soon after, Colaco ghosted in behind Ghosh, who rugby tackled him to the ground -- a straight red for denial of a goalscoring opportunity.
Manvir Singh created arguably India's best chance of the second half after a swerving run ended in a shot that Anisur Rahman blocked. The ball bounced out to Chhetri who teed up Udanta, but his shot was blocked.
Stimac made a few more changes in the second half, as youngster Rahim Ali soon replaced Udanta Singh, while Lalengmawia replaced Colaco. However, it was all Bangladesh at that point, the 10-men side swarming forward looking for an equaliser, and India unable to get out of their own half.
It was once again Bhuyan who made the difference -- an excellent corner was flicked on at the near post and Yeason Arafat arrived unmarked at the far post to touch it home. There were chances on both sides after that, but India never looked like they'd get a winner.
Bangladesh now have four points after two games (they beat 10-man Sri Lanka 1-0 in the opener), and play Maldives on Thursday, October 7. India's next match is earlier on the same day, against Sri Lanka.
(With additions from PTI)
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