Pakistan hand India a painful defeat

Skipper Kaleem, Hussain score in visitors' 2-0 win

Pakistan hand India a painful defeat

The scenes at final whistle presented the enduring image of the game. 

While the Pakistan Under-23 side, who beat India 2-0 in the second and final match of the friendly series here at the Bangalore Football Stadium on Wednesday, went on an impromptu victory lap, the hosts had an emergency sit-down session near their dugout.

While it is not yet clear why Wim Koevermans, the coach of the side, wanted such a session after a morale-sapping defeat, the team needs more than that if they even hope to compete at the Asian Games, which begin at Incheon in the third week of September. 

The impressive Kaleem Ullah, the skipper of the visiting side, set the ball rolling in the 38th minute with a peach of a free-kick which gave goalkeeper Amrinder Singh no chance. The proverbial final nail in the coffin was hammered home when Saddam Hussain slotted the ball home in the 90th minute.

The Indian side, fresh from a lackadaisical 1-0 win over the same opposition on Sunday, made three changes while Pakistan made two changes. Starting in place of the suspended Robin Singh, Thongkhosiem Haokip was the front man, flanked by skipper Sunil Chhetri and Francisco Fernandes. 

The hosts, whose passing inside the opposition half was pathetic for most part of the game, were the first to go close with a long-range effort from Chhetri that just about sailed wide off Muzammil Hussain’s left post. Hussain was called into action 10 minutes before half-time when he saved smartly from Haokip as well as Fernandes in a matter of seconds after good work from Chhetri, who increasingly cut an isolated figure.
 The miss had a compound effect as Pakistan took the lead two minutes later. Midfielder Lalrindika Ralte brought down Kaleem 22 yards from goal and the Dordoi Bishkek man dusted himself off to curl the ball home, sending waves of delight through the Pakistan dugout.
 As soon as the second-half began, Pakistan started employing time-wasting tactics and they started going down with increasing frequency. Chhetri got involved in a couple of scuffles with a few Pakistan players after substitute Siam Hanghal was clipped by Sher Muhammad Baloch near the centre circle. 

The Indian side, who couldn’t create a noteworthy chance for the entirety of the second-half, started leaving space behind them and they were punished.  Defender Sandesh Jhingan failed to clear a loose ball and it was mopped home by Hussain, who pulled the trigger at the right moment. The upset fans — and there was a sizable number considering it was a weekday — hurled abuses at the visitors, who responded by clapping sarcastically at them.

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