Bhaichung scores, India play 1-1 draw with Europa
New Delhi: Captain Bhaichung Bhutia found his scoring touch as India drew 1-1 with Spanish third division side Esportiu Europa in their third friendly game of the training tour of Barcelona.
The match also marked Bhutia`s regular strike partner Sunil Chhetri`s return to competitive football after a long lay-off due to an ankle injury.
Last night`s game against Europa also saw coach Bob Houghton ending his experimentation by fielding first XI and three substitutes at the mini stadium near the iconic Camp Nou.
Chhetri, who last played in the Santosh Trophy for Delhi in May, came in the second half in place of Sushil Singh and played till the end of the match.
Bhutia, who had his best game today with a flurry of shots at the rival goal in the 70 minutes he played, gave India the lead in the 31st minute but his side were denied a victory as Alberto Padilla converted a spot kick in the 71st minute.
Both the sides made some good moves early into the game but the Indians slowly took control and had at least three good scoring chances but could convert only one.
As early as in the 13th minute, Bhutia attempted a diving header inside the Europa box off a Steven Dias cross from the right but the India skipper failed to connect it to perfection and straight headed to the rival goalkeeper.
In the 28th minute, Bhutia fed Dias inside the box but the later shot over the bar to fritter an open chance.
The Indians were rewarded for their incessant attack in the 31st minute with the captain himself scoring after getting a free chance inside the box from a long clearance.
Bhutia collected the ball coolly and beat the rival goalkeeper by placing it to the right corner of the net.
The early part of the second session was a tussle for midfield domination. Bhutia had a go at the goal in the 60th minute while India goalkeeper Subrata Pal had to make a diving save in the 63rd minute to keep his side`s lead intact.
Houghton replaced Bhutia and Dias by Abhishek Yadav and Renedy Singh respectively in the 70th and 71st minute, but to their ire the Spanish side soon equalised from a penalty after Surkumar Singh fouled Ivan Plana inside the box.
The equaliser seemed to spur the Europa players as they made a number of attacks at the Indian goal with their best chance coming in the last minute when goal scorer Padilla shot wide from close range.
India play their fourth and final friendly game against another Spanish third division side Sant Boia FC on Wednesday before flying back home on August 7.
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