Nepal vs India: Thapa, Bista on scoresheet as first friendly ends in 1-1 draw

Anjan Bista and Anirudh Thapa, the goalscorers for their respective team as the first international friendly ends in a draw.

India's Liston Colaco (right) fights for the ball.   -  AIFF

India and Nepal played out a 1-1 draw in an International Friendly held at the Dasharath Stadium in Kathmandu on Thursday (September 2, 2021). Midfielder Anirudh Thapa scored for the Blue Tigers in the 60th minute, with Anjan Bista having given the home team the lead in the 36th minute.

Both sides battled it out for the opening goal and in the 36th minute, the host took the lead through Anjan Bista, who pounced on a loose pass in the Indian defence and put the ball in the back of the net.

India surged forward in search of the equalizer, with Liston charging down the left flank on several occasions and entering dangerous areas with the ball. The score at the break, however, remained 1-0 in favour of Nepal, with Gurpreet making a couple of clean saves towards the end from long-range efforts from the hosts.


Igor Stimac made a lot of changes at the break , with Anirudh Thapa and Sahal Abdul Samad coming into their midfield positions, and Seriton Fernandes and Rahim Ali being brought on as well – making their respective senior India debuts.

Thapa's free-kick in the 50th minute caused havoc inside the Nepal penalty box as the ball fell to Sunil but he was denied by an onrushing Kiran. The Nepali keeper continued to press the ball outside his area and blocked a cross with his hand, earning him a yellow card.

At the hour mark, the Blue Tigers equalised through substitute Thapa, who showed great awareness to poke the ball home from close range. Sunil's fierce shot from 25 yards could only be palmed into the six-yard box by Kiran and an onrushing Thapa was on hand to react quickly to the rebound and score.


India skipper Sunil Chhetri (left) battles for the ball.   -  AIFF


Rahim almost added a quick second goal with a curling effort from outside the penalty area, soon after, but his shot went just past the wrong side of the upright.

Lalengmawia replaced Suresh Wangjam in the 63rd minute and Bipin Singh was brought on for Sunil Chhetri in the 70th minute as India continued to push for the go-ahead goal.

With 10 minutes to play, Nepal's Bishal Rai found space to shoot inside the penalty area but his shot was blocked promptly by Rahul Bheke, as Gurpreet collected easily.

Manvir was inches away from scoring in the 83rd minute after Thapa's free-kick found Bheke inside the box, who headed the ball across the face of goal. Manvir received it and beat his marker, but his shot towards the far corner from a tight angle went narrowly wide.

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The Blue Tigers piled on the pressure and Rahim had a great chance to score the winning goal with two minutes of regulation time left as he charged in on goal after receiving a through-pass. However, his effort across the keeper slid off-target and eventually, the match ended in a 1-1 draw.

The two sides will be in action once again on Sunday (September 5, 2021) in the second International Friendly, which will be played at the same venue and will kick off at 5.15 PM IST, and will be streamed live on the Indian Football Team Facebook page.

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