India pulled off a fine second-half performance to defeat Cambodia 3-2 in a fiercely contested friendly at the Phnom Penh National Olympic Stadium on Wednesday.
Sunil Chhetri, Jeje Lalpekhlua and Sandesh Jhingan were on target as India pulled off an away win in an international friendly for the first time since June 2005.
Cambodia, who are placed 41 places below India, stretched the visitors with an inspired performance orchestrated by a young side consisting of mostly under-23 players.
India though had opened the scoring against run of play through Chhetri in the 35th minute after the Cambodian keeper failed to grasp the ball from a corner by Eugeneson Lyngdoh. The ball fell kindly to Chhetri, who placed the ball into an empty goal.
Cambodia, who were dominating possession prior to India’s goal, struck back two minutes later. It was the Indian goal-keeper, who made an error in judgment this time. Gurpreet Sandhu could have done better in goal as Khoun Laboravy beat him at the near post to level the scores.
The hosts had a number of chances in the lead up to the half-time break, but failed to convert.
India made them pay soon after the break as Jeje capitalised on a lovely through ball from Jackiechand Singh four minutes in.
Jhingan found the back of the net only three minutes later to double India’s advantage with a trademark header off another Eugeneson corner.
Cambodia, though, did not go away with a fight. They halved India’s advantage in the 62nd minute to set-up a nail-biting final half hour. Vathanaka Chan scored from the edge of the box as India’s defenders failed to close him on time.
The hosts created plenty of chances up until the final whistle, but could find a breakthrough as India’s defence kept them at bay to escape with a win.
The victory did come as a welcome relief for India who were playing their first match after mauling Puerto Rico in September 2016. But as the side gear up for the crucial match in the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 qualifier against Myanmar, Constantine will have to plug in a few areas in the next few days.