SAFF Championship: Chhetri comes to India's rescue

Last Updated: Tue, Sep 03, 2013 15:35 hrs

Kathamndu: Captain Sunil Chhetri scored in injury time to help India salvage a 1-1 draw against Bangladesh in their second game of the SAFF Football Championship here Tuesday.

On the edge of the rival box, Chhetri curled it enough for the ball to sail over the wall yet dip enough to bulge - a goal which took him past I.M. Vijayan and a goal behind Bhaichung Bhutia as India's highest-ever goalscorer.

India dominated all through but paid for missed chances to split points with Bangladesh.

Much against the run of play, Atiqur Rahaman Meshu put Bangladesh in the lead in the 83rd minute.

India pressed early and seized the momentum. There was buildup from the back and support for each other.

The flurry of chances went abegging in the first half.

The first chance came in the 8th minute when an overlapping Nirmal Chettri found Francis Fernandes on the right.

Francis, who was impressive with his timely runs, sped past Waly Faisal and essayed a centre. But an unmarked Chhetri's volley just went over.

The very next minute another of Chhetri's efforts went off the mark. Then Jewel Raja failed to pull the trigger after the triangle of Lenny Rodrigues, Mehtab Hossain and Chhetri had done the spadework.

The barrage of Indian attacks pushed Bangladesh into their own territory. Other than a moment when Nirmal rushed in to deny Taklis Ahmed, Bangladesh weren't able to break free in the first half.

In the 36th minute, Francis who till then had done no wrong, volleyed a loose ball off a Mohanraj long-throw but it sailed over.

Minutes later, Francis was brought down at the far end. Off the resultant Mehtab free kick, Chhetri did time his jump to perfection. But he was unlucky.

In the 71st minute, Dawson Fernandes, who came in as a substitute, set up Francis in the clear. But his diagonal shot hit the side net.

Chhetri was kept on a double marking by the two rival stoppers. They closed down whenever he received the ball.

The inevitable goal came two minutes later, in the 83rd minute. Much against the run of play, Bangladesh scored when Atiqur Rahaman Meshu scored off a melee following a corner.

Bangladesh immediately went back to defend with 10 men even as India went all out. Another of Chhetri's shot missed narrowly. And then came the Chhetri magic in injury time.

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