The Indian football team were held to a 1-1 by Nepal in an international friendly in Kathmandu in what turned out to be a disappointing performance by the Blue Tigers.
The hosts took a surprise lead through Anjan Bista in the 35th minute capitalising on a sloppy back pass by Indian defender Chinglensana Singh to round goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and score in an empty net.
India, after a bright start, had lost their rhythm midway through the first half allowing Nepal to grow into the game and go into the break with their noses in front.
Coach Igor Stimac then brought on Anirudh Thapa and Rahim Ali in place of Brandon Fernandes and Glan Martins respectively. Thapa’s introduction gave India more impetus as he helped link up the play better.
Chhetri fired a header wide in the 52nd minute from a looping cross. But with the Indian captain being more involved in the play than the first half, India broke through on the hour mark.
Chhetri received the ball from substitute Sahal Abdul Samad turned and fired toward goal. The Nepal goalkeeper failed to parry the ball over the crossbar allowing an alert Thapa to beat the Nepal defenders to the loose ball and tap home the winner.
Stimac took off Chhetri in the 69th minute and India lost momentum again. The visitors had a chance in the 82nd minute when they found a way to get behind the Nepal defence but the final pass was inaccurate.
Rahim Ali had a half-chance to net the winner two minutes from time but dragged his effort wide. Nepal had their share of moments at the other end but didn’t find enough quality to score the decisive goal.
The game ended all square as Nepal managed to end India’s two-game winning streak against them.
India will play Nepal again for their second game on the tour on September 5 at 5:30 PM IST.
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