Hosts Uzbekistan scored a stoppage-time goal to beat India 3-2 in an international friendly at Pakhtakor Stadium here on Tuesday.
Thomas Dennerby’s wards fought tooth and nail and could have earned a 2-2 draw, but Kamila Zaripova’s strike in the second minute of stoppage time crushed their hopes.
The Blue Tigresses looked at home soon after kick-off and Anju Tamang came close to making it 1-0 in the sixth minute when she outran the Uzbek right-back and beat goalkeeper Maftuna Jonimqulova with a left-footer.
However, the ball did not swing enough to go in through the far post.
The hosts wrested back the initiative in the very next minute.
Like most of their attacks, this too was led by Lyudmila Karachik. She sent a measured cross to Diyora Khabibullaeva in front of the goal, and the striker did the rest.
However, India was not overawed.
Maftuna had to palm away Karthika Angamuthu’s header from the goalline in the 16th minute to preserve the lead.
But there was not much she could do when Dangmei Grace capped a brilliant run down the right flank with a scorching shot in the 22nd minute to make it 1-1.
It was Sandhiya Ranganathan, who had snatched the ball from the midfield and set Grace nicely.
India’s joy was short-lived, though, as captain Ashalata Devi made a costly error by handling the ball inside the penalty box. Karachik made it 2-1 from the spot.
Sandhiya, who had a great day, came close to restoring parity in the 39th minute with a solo run from the midfield. She even beat the last Uzbek defender but could not get past goalkeeper Maftuna.
The Uzbeks could have made it 3-1 early in the second half but back-to-back shots by Diyora in the 59th minute were saved by India goalkeeper Shreya Hooda and Ritu Rani.
A couple of minutes later Indumathi Kathiresan scored a dazzling goal. Following an innocuous exchange on the edge of the Uzbek box, she noticed Maftuna was well off the line. Indumathi sent a swerving left-footer over her head into the goal to make it 2-2.
Finally, Kamila Zaripova’s strike in the second minute of stoppage time crushed India’s hopes.
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