Chhetri, Jeje sink Kenya to make it two in two

Sunil Chhetri scored a brace on his 100th appearance as India beat Kenya 3-0 in the Intercontinental Cup on Monday.

Chhetri all but sealed the match with a masterful chip past the keeper in the 90th minute as India soared to an unassailable 3-0 lead.   -  PRASHANT NAKWE

Sunil Chhetri scored a brace on his 100th appearance for Team India as the host thumped Kenya by 3-0 in front of a packed Mumbai Football Arena to register its second win in as many games at the Hero Intercontinental Cup on Monday. 

As the action unfolded

Chhetri converted a spot- kick to put India ahead in the 65th minute while Jeje Lalpekhlua doubled the lead six minutes later, leaving the Kenyan defence in tatters.

The captain all but sealed the match with a masterful chip past the keeper in the 90th minute as India soared to an unassailable 3-0 lead.

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The triple strikes by India could be put down to individual brilliance rather than teamwork. Chhetri shaped to control a floater when Michael Kibwage brought him down, in the process handing the host a penalty.

Chhetri, faced with delaying tactics by goalkeeper Patrick Matasi, held his nerve to slot home with ease. His second goal - India’s third on an exciting night - was the finishing touch to a breakaway move by Balwant Singh, the most admired player on the pitch netting with a chip.

Jeje’s goal, meanwhile, happened in a flash of inspiration. Rated by Chhetri as the future of Indian football, the muscular forward capitalised on a defensive error by Holicharan Narzary’s cross into the Kenyan goalmouth.

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The defence did not get time to recover as Jeje fired across high into the right top corner. Sandesh Jhingan, limping off in the second half, alongside Anas Edathodika, also replaced, played their hearts out in the central defence.

Goalkeepers at both ends - able to anticipate the ball skidding off wet turf - were more useful in such conditions than tearaway forwards. However, Gurpreet Singh bettered - he denied Pistone Mutamba the angle to score - his Kenyan counterpart,  who got beaten thrice in a rollicking second-half as India upped the ante after heavy rains had made life difficult for the players on the night.

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