The Indian U-17 national team put on an inspired display to emerge 2-0 winner against Uzbekistan in the first of two friendly matches at the Tilak Maidan on Sunday.
India, which has qualified for the AFC U-17 Asian Cup final rounds and is preparing for the campaign ahead, did all the damage in the first half, as Korou Singh Thingujam ran the show on the right wing, assisting Vanlalpeka Guite and Lalpekhlua to score a goal each.
Uzbekistan had its fair share of chances as well, but India goalkeeper Sahil was equal to any danger he faced and picked up a deserved clean sheet.
However, the visitor dictated play in the early stages, maintaining possession in the India half but without any real penetration.
Bibiano Fernandes’ boys withstood the early pressure and quickly got into gear, with Lalpekhlua and Korou’s pace causing Uzbekistan plenty of trouble on the flanks.
Lalpekhlua had the game’s first real chance in the 21st minute as he cut inside from the left before unleashing a curling effort towards the far post, but Uzbek keeper Asilbek Numonov tipped it away at full stretch.
India’s continued pressure paid off at the half-hour mark when captain Vanlalpeka Guite found the opener after some explosive work by Korou Singh on the right flank. Korou outran his marker and darted into the penalty area before slipping in a perfectly-weighted ball for Guite in the middle. The Indian captain made the simplest of tap-ins from six yards out to put the hosts ahead.
Uzbekistan almost responded immediately as Abdulkhamid Turgunboev sent a fierce shot from distance, calling Sahil into action. The Indian custodian displayed quick reflexes to tip it over the crossbar.
On the other end, the hosts continued to dominate the wings. This time, Guite skipped past an Uzbek challenge on the left before cutting the ball back for Thanglalsoun Gangte from the by-line, but it was intercepted by Mamadalikhan Olimov. However, India got their second goal in the very next attack thanks to Korou’s vision, Gangte’s mindfulness and Lalpekhlua’s composure.
Korou’s cross from the right allowed Gangte to draw two Uzbek shirts towards him, leaving Lalpekhlua empty inside the area. The winger set himself up with a good first touch before splendidly curling it past Numonov into the bottom corner.
India U-17 will play its second friendly against Uzbekistan on Tuesday.