Kolkata: Star striker Sunil Chhetri struck twice in either half as India defeated Malaysia 3-2 in the second International Friendly at the Salt Lake Stadium Thursday.
Chhetri scored in the 39th and 53rd minute while fellow striker Jeje Lalpekhlua found the back of the net in 47th minute. For Malaysia, Mohd Sali Mohd Safee scored in the 45th and 59th minute.
India won the two-match FIFA international friendly series 1-0 after the first match between the two teams had ended 1-1 in Guwahati last Sunday.
In today`s encounter, the Indians played positive football and dominated proceedings in both the sessions. In fact, the home team could have won by a bigger margin but for some inept finishing.
The midfield combination of Baldeep Singh, Francis Fernandes, Rocus Lamare and Lalrindika Ralte combined well and never allowed the rivals to settle down.
Both the sides scored a goal each in the first half. India went ahead scoring in the 38th minute when Chhetri, displaying fine opportunism, placed the ball home off a pass from Baldeep Singh.
The lead was, however, short-lived as the visitors struck back and drew level six minutes later. Collecting the ball from their own area, captain Rahim Safiq moved ahead and passed the ball to striker Abu Samah Shahurain who in turn gave it to striker Md Sali. Sali found the target with a powerful shot.
The second half saw the hosts starting with a renewed vigour as they pumped in two more goals within a span of five minutes just after the breather.
India forged ahead again as their forwards combined well in the 47th minute with Chhetri initiating the move and giving the ball to medio Francis Fernandes.
Fernandes then passed it to Jeje who found the net from close range.
India maintained their dominance and consolidated their position in the 51st minute through Chhetri, who gathered a nice pass from Francis and scored his second and team`s third goal with a shot from close range.
Stung by the reverse, Malaysia went into the overdrive, spelling danger to the rival citadel.
Mohd Sali reduced the margin with a shot from inside the box.
India coach Savio Medeira was a pleased man. "The boys played their hearts out," he said.
"It`s good to end with a victory. We did make quite a few changes in the playing XI and it paid off. The SAFF Championship is knocking at the door and we needed to give a chance to everyone to gauge their match temperament," he said.
"We didn`t get much time to prepare for the match but the boys rose to the occasion," the coach added.
Chhetri who stayed the cynosure of all eyes said, "We played well. It`s a special feeling when you score for your country."