Mumbai: India won their Intercontinental Cup as Sunil Chhetri bagged the 63rd and 64th goals of his career to steer his side to a 2-0 victory in the final against Kenya at the Mumbai Football Arena on Sunday.
Stephen Constantine made seven changes to his line-up against New Zealand as the starting eleven reverted to the one that started the games against Kenya and Chinese Taipei in the first two games of the tournament.
Anirudh Thapa and Pronay Halder returned to the midfield as Jeje Lalpekhlua took his place as the spearhead of the attack with Chhetri playing just behind the Chennaiyin FC forward.
Kenya’s plan was to control the ball possession, which they dominated, but it was Chhetri once again who opened the scoring for India from a smartly worked free-kick. Thapa took it short from the left and played it in for the captain to sweep it home from the edge of the box.
The Africans kept launching hopeful crosses into the box as Halder and Thapa, along with the defence, held firm.
It was Chhetri, then, who doubled the lead for the home side.
As Anas Edathodika received the ball on the edge of the box, he launched it forward onto the path of Chhetri who chested the ball down, out-muscling the Kenyan centre-backs. Chhetri then took a stride towards the goal, before finishing it off with his left foot, stroking it past the keeper.
From then on, it was Kenya who took the onus of attacking as India stayed back, launching the occasional counter. Constantine rung in the changes at the hour mark with Jeje, just after he was wrongly adjudged offside when Chhetri put him through, one of the players making way.
Reminder of the game saw Gurpreet Singh Sandhu make a few smart saves in the second half to deny Kenya a goal and keep a third clean sheet in as many Intercontinental Cup matches. India held firm to win 2-0 and lift the trophy.
Chhetri, who finished with eight goals in the tournament, was declared the player of the tournament to go with his man of the match award.