Jhingan and Jeje score as India register comfortable 2-0 win over Nepal
India beat Nepal 2-0 in their friendly encounter at the Mumbai Football Arena on Tuesday. Sandesh Jhingan finished with aplomb to give the hosts the lead in the 60th minute. Nepal’s captain Biraj Maharjan was shown red for an ill-judged goal-denying tackle shortly after. The second goal of the night was scored by Jeje Lalpekhlua to put the game beyond any dispute 11 minutes from full-time.
India’s target-man Robin Singh had a busy start to the game and saw plenty of the ball in the opening exchanges as the home side pushed forward in search of an opener. His first chance of the game came in the 14th minute when he failed to connect properly to a cross from the left by Holicharan Narzary.
The hosts’ next opportunity came from a set-piece two minutes later when a Mohammed Rafique corner found Jhingan in the box. Jhingan’s header though failed to cause any consternation for Nepal’s goalkeeper, who made an easy save.
The Blue Tigers’ next attempt on goal came from a Jackichand Singh cross, which Robin headed fractions wide of the target to the dismay of the home faithful. Substitute Eugeneson Lyngdoh, who came on to replace an injured Rowllin Borges then provided a delightful through-ball to Robin just before the half-hour mark. Robin, however, fired wide of goal with his weaker foot.
The visitors were nearly made to pay for their misses just before the break. Nawayug Shreshta was sent clear of the defence with the goal at his mercy. An outrushing Gurpreet Singh Sandhu came charging off his line to thwart the danger but only managed a half clearance with the ball still at Shreshta’s feet. Fortunately for India though Shreshta bottled his attempt at an open goal as both sides went in for the half-time interval having failed to break the deadlock.
India’s first attempt of the second period fell to Jeje, whose volley from range was safely collected by the Nepal keeper. The visitors responded with a shot from distance of their own moments later but Sandhu pulled off a spectacular save to deny them.
Anas Edathodika had India’s next chance of the game in the 55th minute when a Jeje flick on from a corner found its way to him just in front of the six-yard box. Edathodika nodded goal-wards but the goalkeeper was positioned perfectly to make the save.
The Nepal keeper was kept busy and had to pull off a save low to his right soon after to keep out Bikash Jairu as India kept knocking on the door for the opener. The pressure eventually told on Nepal’s defence with India finally breaking the deadlock on the hour mark through Jhingan. The robust defender was quickest to react to Jeje’s lay off before emphatically finishing with his left foot to make it 1-0.
Nepal’s chances of a comeback took a blow eight minutes later when their skipper Biraj Maharjan was shown a direct red for an ill-timed last-man tackle on Jairu. India doubled their lead 11 minutes from full-time as Jeje slotted in a Rafique pass from the right beyond the goalkeeper to bring the crowd to their feet.
The win serves as ideal preparation for Stephen Constantine’s men, who take on Kyrgz Republic in their second 2019 AFC Asian Cup qualifiers match at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru on June 13.