Intercontinental Cup: Tajikistan makes stunning comeback to hand India 4-2 defeat

Tajikistan produced a remarkable comeback to score four second half goals and claim a 4-2 win over India in the opening match of the 2019 Intercontinental Cup on Sunday.

Action from the Intercontinental Cup clash between India and Tajikistan at Ahmedabad's EKA Arena on Sunday.   -  Twitetr @IndianFootball

India's Intercontinental Cup title defence began on a losing note as the Blue Tigers fell to a 4-2 loss against Tajikistan in their clash at Ahmedabad's EKA Arena on Sunday.

Watched by a 7,000 strong crowd, India soared into the lead through captain Sunil Chhetri, who scored a fourth minute penalty, before he made it 2-0 in the 41st minute. Tajikistan turned things around after the break as Komron Tursunov, Sheriddin Boboev, Muhammadjon Rahimov and substitute Shamrom Samiev took turns in finding the back of the net.

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India's dominance was prominent in the opening half with the new-look side displaying the quick passing format that head coach Stimac is trying to inculcate in the side. The Croatian head coach was forced to leave out seasoned defender Anas Edathodika and Sandesh Jhingan owing to injury. This put the onus of defending on two debutants – Narender Gahlot and Mandar Rao Desai – and the two relative new-comers in Adil Khan and Rahul Bheke.

Before the Tajiks could get into a rhythm, India soared into the lead as early as the fourth minute. Lallianzuala Chhangte won the penalty when he was brought down in the box by the opposition defender Siyovush Asrorov. Chhetri stepped up and found the net from the spot with a cheeky ‘paneka’. The Indians doubled their lead in the 41st minute when Chhetri converted Mandar's cross with aplomb.

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The change of ends saw the tie sway in Tajikistan's favour. The visitor pegged one back in the 56th minute when Tursunov outwitted his marker, Narinder, to find the target. Tursunov soon turned provider as he delivered a sharp low cross into the box and Boboev made no mistake.

While India was still struggling to regroup after the twins strikes, Tajikistan struck two goals in three minutes to seal the tie. Rahimov struck in the 71st minute and Samiev put the tie beyond doubt with his 74th minute goal to earn his side its first win in six matches.

India will next play DPR Korea on July 13, while Tajikistan faces Syria on July 10.