Image credit: AIFF

Farukh Choudhary and Sunil Chhetri scored as India beat Nepal 2-1 in the second and last friendly at the Dasharath Stadium in Kathmandu on Sunday evening. After a goalless first half, Choudhary and Chhetri put the visitors 2-0 up in the space of 18 minutes. Nepal reduced the deficit in the 87th minute through Tej Tamang.

  • Nepal was the better team in the first half.
  • Choudhary broke the deadlock in the 62nd minute.
  • Chhetri doubled India’s lead in the 80th minute.
  • Nepal pulled one back three minutes from time.

Igor Stimac made seven changes to India’s playing XI from their first friendly with Pritam Kotal, Lalengmawia, Seriton Fernandes, Bipin Singh, Rahim Ali, Anirudh Thapa, Amrinder Singh all starting on Sunday. Though the amount of improvement he would have expected from his team wasn’t there: the Nepalese team was the livelier of the two and created better chances all through the first half.

In the 24th minute of the match, Thapa’s first touch in the box let India down and Nepal goalkeeper Kiran Kumar Limbu did the rest warding off the danger. In the 28th minute, Nepal came close to getting ahead in the contest as Ayush Ghalan whipped in a nice ball but Aashish Lama just failed to meet it with his head and the terrific delivery went out to the great dismay of home fans.

Nepal’s pace and aggression meant the Indian defenders were always under pressure and it was a little surprise that Seriton picked up a yellow card for bringing down Suman Lama in the 35th minute way outside the box.

In the 41st minute, Rahim headed a Manvir cross from the right in the direction of Bipin at the far post; the Mumbai City FC midfielder tried to head it back towards Chhetri, however, an alert Gautam Shrestha headed out the danger before the Indian skipper could do anything. Both teams headed into the break with the score reading 0-0, however, the hosts would have been in a better frame of mind having dominated the half for the most part.

In the 62nd minute against the run of play, India scored through substitute Choudhary. However, the architect of the goal was Chhetri who nicely headed a long ball from Chinglensana Singh towards Choudhary who controlled the ball using his chest and sent it past the Nepalese goalkeeper to put the visitors ahead.

Nepal came very close to getting their equaliser in the 68th minute. Navayug Shrestha released Bishal Rai on the right but the latter shockingly missed the target. In the 74th minute, Manish Dangi failed to reach in time to tap in a diagonal cross at the far post.

India got their second goal on the counter in ṭhe 80th minute. Thapa headed the ball towards Chhetri and the Indian skipper picked it up around the half-way line and ran ahead with it before slotting it into the right bottom corner. Seven minutes later, Nepal pulled one back through a scorcher from Tamang from around 30 yards out. The hosts tried their best to find the equaliser, however, they failed despite all their attempts in the final few minutes.

The next challenge for both outfits is the five-team SAFF Championship next month in the Maldives.