Indian men’s football team bounced back from its opening match defeat as it prevailed over Maldives 3-2 in a crucial match to reach the semi-finals of the 12th South Asian Games here today.
Double strike by Udanta Singh and a Pritam Kotal goal ensured an Indian win in a topsy-turvy match, which saw Maldives equalise their deficit twice, before finally surrendering to the Indian attacking prowess.
India had lost to Sri Lanka 0-1 in their opening match on February 6. India took the lead as early in the 4th minute when Udanta steered clear off the Maldivian defence line and blasted home to give the ‘Men in Blue’ a goal lead.
Maldives struck back quickly in the ninth minute to make the score-line 1-1. Not to be deterred, the Indians got the lead again with Pritam Kotal heading home in the 11th minute. With India having the lion’s share of possession, opportunities to extend their lead came in plenty.
In the 31st minute, Udanta dashed onto a vacant left flank. However the Bengaluru FC forward slipped while positiong himself for the final shot.
Nine minutes later, it was Jerry, who tried to extend India’s lead, but his shot deflected off a Maldivian defender.
In the 42nd minute, Maldives equalized their deficit as both teams went into the breather 2-2.
India once again surged into lead in the 59th minute through Udanta Singh, who made use of his opportunity to make the scoreline 3-2 in home team’s favour.
Shortly after, head coach Lee Johnson shuffled his pack and introduced Lallianzuala in place of Jayesh Rane. The Indians kept possession and pushed to extend their lead. Maldives made some last ditched efforts to restore parity but Indian defence stood tall to maintain the lead till the end.