New Delhi: Bhaichung Bhutia celebrated his
100th match appearance for the country by scoring one and
setting up another goal in India`s 2-1 win over Kyrgyzstan in
a round-robin fixture of the Nehru Cup International football
tournament here today.
India thus bounced back into a final berth contention in
the five-nation tournament after losing to Lebanon 0-1 in the
opening match at the Ambedkar Stadium under floodlights.
Bhutia, who started his international career in 1995 in
the same tournament in Kolkata, scored in the 43rd minute
before Sunil Chhetri converted a penalty in the 57th minute.
The penalty was awarded when Bhutia was brought down by
the Kyrgyz goalkeeper Matiash Pavel inside the danger zone.
Murzaev Mirlan reduced the margin for Kyrgyzstan in the
Egged on a by a packed stadium, the Indian attack was a
lot more sharper with the return of Chhetri, who started in
place of Sushil Singh, and the Delhi striker showed his class
with a lot good moves which made the Kyrgyz defence nervy on
With the ground shorn of tall grass, conducive for Bob
Houghton`s boys to play short-passing football, India raided
the Kyrgyzstan citadel a number of times with most of the
moves from the right flank via Steven Dias, who also
created havoc with his crosses and free kicks.
Kyrgyzstan goalkeeper Pavel was a busy man throughout the
match coming out of his line to collect repeated crosses from
Play remain mostly in the Kyrgyz half with the Central
Asians making attacks on Indian goal once in a while mostly
via neat passing between their two strikers Zemlianuhin Anton
and Mirzaliev Almazbek.
Bhutia, who was later adjudged man of the match, put
India ahead two minutes before the breather.
Goalkeeper`s Paul`s goal-kick landed on Bhutia`s feet
after Chhetri and a Kyrgyz defender went for the ball but
missed the flight.
The India captain then turned round and sent a low left
footer from a very narrow angle which beat the goalkeeper to
find the net after first hitting the far post.
In the sixth minute, NP Pradeep got a free header off a
cross from Dias from a move initiated by Chhetri. Pradeep got
the height of his header right but not the direction.
Next minute, another header from close range by Chhetri
off a high cross from Deepak Mondal, who came in for injured
Surkumar Singh today, went over the Kyrgyz crossbar.
In the 10th minute, Indian defenders were, however,
caught napping and a Zemlianuhin Anton pass saw Harchenko
Vladim through inside the penalty box but Indian goalkeeper
Subrata paul made a fine save by diving to his left.
The Indians continued the second half from where they
left in the first session and in the fourth minute after the
breather Climax Lawrence`s right-footed flick off a Dias low
cross was blocked by the Kyrgyz goalkeeper and Bhutia`s left
footer off the rebound kissed the outside of right upright.
A Mahesh Gawli shot off his right foot in the 53rd minute
was then punched out in the nick of time by Kyrgyz goalkeeper
Pavel near the left top corner of the net.
The incessant Indian attack paid off in the 57th minute.
Bhutia was brought down by the Kyrgyz goalkeeper after
the Indian captain had got past him off a pass from Chhetri
inside the penaly box after Dias had initiated the move.
Chhetri cooly sent the ball past Pavel`s left side into
the net to double the lead. Kyrgyzstan could have reduced the
margin three minutes later but for a missed penalty by
Mirzaliev Almazbek who was tripped by Gouramangi Singh after
Anwar fumbled to clear the ball deep inside the box.
Indian goalkeeper Paul dived to his right to block the
spot kick. Late into the match, the Indian defence was found
wanting in a couple of occasions which allowed the Kyrgyz
making some shots at the home team goal.
Amirov Ildar got two shots, one hitting the Indian
crossbar while the other was blocked by Paul. Second half
substitute Sidorenko Pavel then misfired from close range in
the 84th minute.
But the Kyrgyz were not to be denied a goal and second
half substitute striker Murzaev Mirlan found the target in the
89th minute after being fed by defender Chikishev Sergey.
India play their third round-robin match against Sri
Lanka on Wednesday.