Skipper Bhaichung Bhutia found his scoring touch and his strike partner Sunil Chettri made a comeback from his long injury lay-off in India’s third friendly game of their training tour of Barcelona against Club Esportiu Europa.
India’s preparation for the Nehru Cup tournament seemed to have got off to a flying start as the Indian captain weaved his way through the rival defence and found the back of the net to put India ahead in the 32nd minute at the Mini Estadi, next to the Camp Nou.
While India made only one change after halftime, bringing in Chettri for Sushil Singh, the Europa changed their entire playing eleven.
With most of the Indian legs flagging in this fast paced encounter, the local team managed to equalise off a penalty after Surkumar Singh brought down Ivan Plana.
Speaking to Hindustan Times from Barcelona, team manager Pradip Choudhary said this third match of their tour was ‘the best so far’.
“It was the coach's decision to assess the team's endurance to play the full 90 minutes,” said Choudhury. “In such training games, we normally field two different teams in either half so the entire squad gets a chance to play.”
Striker Sunil Chettri got his first match action, albeit for 35 minutes, when he was brought in at the start of the second half.