Barasat: AIFF XI rode on a brilliant strike from 15-year-old Niki Muchahary as they drew with PVF Vietnam in the Asia Champions Trophy football here today.
PVF Vietnam`s Phang Throng missed a penalty in injury time but made amends almost immediately scoring from a freekick from just outside the box. The result helped AIFF open their account after three matches while PVF Vietnam moved to seven points from three matches.
It was PVF who started off on a brighter note. In the first five minutes they pushed AIFF XI into their own half with the omnipresent midfielder Pham Trong regulating the attacks, though they couldn?t penetrate, their quick interchanging seemed promising.
But the initial promise faded away. AIFF XI slowed it down, took over the possession and started building from the back. With the two wingbacks often overlapping, it added that extra manpower to the attack.
By the 30th minute, AIFF XI had taken full control of the game. Krishna Pandit and Nijwm had interchanged flanks and with Anirudh Thapa marshalling from the midfield, PVF had to defend vigorously. In the 31st minute, Phan Van again came to his teams rescue when he collected Amey`s thunderous volley from just outside the 18-yard box.
The goal eventually came in the 38th minute, a goal which will stay afresh in the memory for long. Nijwm followed a clearance and volleyed in bang into the net to the right corner past a diving Phan Van.
As was the script in the first half, PVF Vietnam started on a brighter note but AIFF XI didn`t crack. The pressure was absorbed and attacks initiated after the patient wait to catch the rival on the wrong foot.
In the 73rd minute, Jerry Lalrinzuala`s free-kick from the edge of the box hit the wall. The resultant corner, however, went abegging. PVF, by that time, were depending on counter-attacks. Even as the AIFF defence were thwarting them, one of them in the 76th minute could have been dangerous had not Goalkepeer Dheeraj Singh came to the rescue after Nguyen Vu had gone past Amit Tudu. PVF`s next chance came in the 81st minute but Dheeraj was inplace to collect Bguyen`s powerful header.
Understandably, PVF went all out in the last four minutes but the Indian defence stood tall.