The Indian U-19 football team put up a fight but suffered a 0-2 loss in the first of its two friendly matches against Serbia U-19. The match played at Serbian town of Stara Pazava on Thursday was part of Indian team’s European tour to prepare for next year’s U-19 Asian Championships.

A first-half spot-kick by Bosic Radijove (30th minute) and a neat finish late in the second-half by Aleksandar Kostic (82nd) ensured a win for the home side.

It was a promising start for India as striker Aniket Jadhav threatened to score in the early minutes. Aniket tested the Serbian goalkeeper as early as the second minute of the game to set the tempo of the match.

Within the first 10 minutes, the visitors suffered their first setback when defender Akash picked up an injury. He was replaced by Asish Rai.

Serbia took the lead in the 30th minute from the spot after Jitendra Singh was adjudged to have handled the ball in the penalty area.

Radijove stepped up to take the kick and placed it past Prabhsukhan Gill, who guessed correctly by diving to his left but could not make contact with the ball.

Five minutes later, the Indian team was inches away from scoring the equaliser but the Serbian keeper pulled off another brilliant save, denying Amarjit Kiyam in a one-on-one situation and stopping the Indian skipper’s effort with his feet.

The last 10 minutes of the first half saw Serbia take control, with a long-range effort crashing against the crossbar in the 38th minute. The Indian U-19 team got the better of the second half opening exchanges with Ashish and Jeakson Singh in the thick of things.

Aniket pounced on a defensive error from the Serbians in the 66th minute and unleashed a shot, which was again parried away by the keeper.

Amarjit and Boris Singh continued to pose threats but with eight minutes to play, Serbia doubled the lead via a fine counter-attacking move.

Aleksandar Kostic was the scorer as he displayed great skill to convert a cross from the right flank with a first-time effort to end India’s chances of making a comeback.

The India U-19 team will play its second friendly against Serbia U-19 at the same venue on September 17.