Listless India edge out Pakistan 1-0

Defending champions India dished out a listless performance but still managed to beat arch-rivals Pakistan 1-0 in their opening game of the SAFF Football Championship here on Sunday.

It took an own goal from Pakistan captain Samar Ishaq in the 14th minute that ensured three points for Sunil Chhetri and Co. The Indians will next take on Bangladesh in their second group league encounter on Tuesday.

The match was billed as a contest between Pakistan defender and former Fulham player Zesh Rahman against Chhetri. Both disappointed during the 90 minutes of play. While the veteran Rahman was slow, Chhetri’s profligacy in the 18-yard box cost India three clear chances.

On all the three occasions, Sunil had the rival custodian at his mercy but his powerful shots were way off the mark.

The winner in the 14th minute came about from a defensive error on the part of Pakistan.

Right wing back Nirmal Chhetri overlapped and tried to find an onrushing Sunil between the two rival centre-backs in the opposition box but Pakistan captain Samar, in his bid to keep his Indian counterpart at bay, inadvertently turned the ball into his own net to gift India the only goal of the game.

India’s best player on the day was young right winger Francis Fernandes who repeatedly beat opposition left half Kamran Khan, who was subbed in the 33rd minute.

Francis time and again managed to evade his marker and enjoyed good possession along with the two central midfielders Mehtab Hossain and Lenny Rodrigues. He made Kamran chase shadows as he essayed a lot of crosses from the right flank.

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