India suffered a humiliating 3-0 defeat at the hands of Vietnam in the Hung Thinh friendly tournament at the Thong Nhat Stadium in Ho Chi Minh City on Tuesday.
Igor Stimac’s side was no match for the host nation which took full advantage of the defensive errors from the men in blue to score its second win in as many matches and clinch the title.
While India had played a 1-1 draw with Singapore, the third team in the event, Vietnam had won 4-0 against it.
India and Vietnam had played many a memorable matches in the past, one among them being the 2002 LG Cup final which India triumphed 3-1 having come back from behind to win the trophy.
India and Vietnam last met in 2010 in an international friendly in Pune with the Blue Tigers running out 3-1 winners with Chhetri scoring a hat-trick.
On Tuesday, World No. 97 Vietnam took some time to settle before making its first attack on the Indian goal. A long range effort from Ho Tan Tai was saved by Indian goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu down to his right. From the following corner, Phan Van Duc put in a brilliant volley to score the first goal in 10th minute after a rebound from the clearance of the initial corner kick at the near post.
World No. 104 India was constantly on the backfoot after Vietnamese midfield kept sending through passes for its forwards. India’s troubles further increased when winger Sahal Abdul Samad limped off the field in the 38th minute and was substituted shortly afterwards.
The men in blue did have a chance to equalise when Akash Mishra’s chip from the left found Sunil Chhetri in the centre of the Vietnam box but the Indian skipper sent the header wide of the far post in the last minute of the first half.
Vietnam made two changes at half-time and reaped rewards immediately as one of them, Nguyen Van Toan had two shots inside the first five minutes of him coming on the field. The second one doubled Vietnam’s lead as Toan chased an aerial ball, went past Anwar Ali before finding the bottom left corner.
Stimac made triple substitution in the 65th minute - Brandon Fernandes, Liston Colaco and Roshan Singh coming on for Sunil Chhetri, Chinglensana Singh and Udanta Singh - to bring some fresh legs on the pitch. Vietnam too made a change minutes later and saw instant impact as Nguyen Van Quyet controlled the ball in front of Gurpreet’s near post after a failed headed clearance from Sandesh Jhingan and curled it in to make it 3-0.
The scoreline could have become even worse had it not been for two spectacular saved by Gurpreet in the next three minutes.
The only bright spot for India in an otherwise lacklustre performance was Akash Mishra on the left flank and Ashique Kuruniyan in the middle who managed to take the ball forward at times.