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Awesome threesome stars in India’s win

sports Updated: Aug 27, 2009 00:48 IST
Abhishek Hore
Abhishek Hore
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

They say in football that hitting the post or bar is bad omen. India did that thrice on Wednesday but so relentless was their search for goal that the superstition as old as the woods didn’t hold.

At the Ambedkar Stadium against Sri Lanka in the ONGC 14th Nehru Cup, India also scored thrice. Chak de India on the public address system seemed appropriate at the break.

Because before that, skipper Bhaichung Bhutia put India ahead halfway propelling himself as only he can to meet Steven Dias’s loping cross from the right with a powerful header. W. Ruwanthilake’s strike after the changeover silenced the packed crowd but goals from Gourmangi Singh and Dias ensured an easy win.

Baichung scoresGourmangi tapped home after N.P. Pradeep again showed tremendous work ethic, following a long free-kick from Dias to play it square which Sri Lanka goalkeeper H. Kumara could only parry. Dias then capped a great game with a powerful blast, after Pradeep played him forward.

India did all the talking from the moment the referee blew the whistle and there should not be an iota of doubt who had more possession. Climax Lawrence and Pradeep always had the upper hand against Sri Lanka skipper Chathura Maduranga and R. Raheem in the central midfield. With the team’s engine room purring smoothly, India were in control.

Living up to coach Bob Houghton’s expectations, and at the same time, proving a point to his detractors, Anthony Pereira, under pressure after mediocre outings against Lebanon and Kyrgyzstan, showed he could take care of the left half.

If Pereira was good, his partner on the right, Dias, was better. Dias was at his attacking best and his partnership with rightback Surkumar Singh troubled Sri Lanka no end.

On more than one occasion, the pair looked like hitting on the break. That Dias found the net was apt. He could have had at least one more to his credit had his right-footer not missed thudded into the horizontal in the first half. A Bhutia header early in the second half and a Pradeep blast hit the upright on either side of Kumara.

True the backline wasn’t looking compact — central defender Anwar missing a headed clearance and Ruwantilake heading home to make it 1-1 — but it is gaining in confidence. Syria may still be the favourites but India look ready for them.

RESULT & FIXTURES

India 3 (Bhaichung Bhutia 26’, Gourmangi Singh 69’, Steven Dias 85’)

Sri Lanka 1 (Well Don Ruwantilake 62’)

India
1-Subrata Pal; 17- Surkumar Singh, 5-Anwar, 19-Gouramangi Singh, 14-Mahesh Gawli; 23-Steven Dias (22-Syed Rahim Nabi), 30-Climax Lawrence, 7-N. P. Pradeep (27-Meharajuddin Wadao), 28-Anthony Pereira (8-Renedy Singh); 15-Baichung Bhutia, 11-Sunil Chhetri.

Sri Lanka
21-H. M. A. Kumara; 4-W. D. R. D. Ruwanthilake, 2-R. N. A. M. A. B. Warakagoda, 5-H. A. D. W. Hettiarachchi, 19-R. T. G. Raheem (17-Tharisha Rangana); 7- Chatura Maduranga, 25-Chathura Gunaratne, 33-Mohd Mohideen, 14-Mohd Asmeer (18-R.M.J.D Rathnayake); 6-Mohamed Issadeen, 10-Ediri Channa

TODAY’S MATCHES

Syria vs Lebanon
Live on Zee Sports from 6.30pm

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