Sunil Chhetri came to Indian football team’s rescue – again – as he scored one and created the other in an unconvincing 2-1 win over hosts Nepal at the Dashrath stadium in Kathmandu on Sunday.

After a goalless first half, Chhetri’s clever header set up a goal for substitute Farukh Choudhary in the 62nd minute to set India on their way. India then doubled the lead as Chhetri finished off a counter-attacking move in the 80th minute. However, Tej Tamang’s long-range strike four minutes from time set up a nervy finish.

Nepal threw everything at the Indian defence who held firm for the victory.

India started the game well, bossing possession and troubling the Nepal defence with crosses from the left. However, it was Nepal who carved out the game’s first best chance when they beat India’s off-side trap with a simple lobbed pass over the defence. But the Nepali forward lost his footing at the crucial juncture allowing goalkeeper Amrinder Singh to clear the danger.

The chance seemed to spring the home side into life who found more joy in the attacking third. The game opened up as Anirudh Thapa couldn’t control a cross inside the box before Ashish Lama was inches away from putting Nepal in front as a cross from the right flank just evaded his well-timed run.

Chhetri sent a header over just before half-time as the first half came to a close without any goals.

Coach Igor Stimac sent on Farukh Choudhary in place of Bipin Singh and the change worked. Choudhary latched onto a loose ball from a Chhetri header inside the box to score past the Nepal goalkeeper in the 62nd minute.

Nepal’s response to going a goal down was good and they should have equalised when India gave the ball away in defence to present Nepal with a shooting chance with only Amrinder to beat. But the Nepal forward put it wide in 68th minute.

Six minutes later, Nepal’s Manish Dangi got on the end of a teasing cross but couldn’t keep it on target.

In the 80th minute, Chhetri punished Nepal, who had committed too many men in attack, with a cool finish to finish off a swift counter-attacking move.

Nepal however scored through Tamang in the 86th minute much to the delight of their fans, but it proved to be nothing more than a consolation as India saw through the rest of the game.