Bangalore, Aug 20 IANS | 2 months ago

India played good hosts to Under-23 Pakistan who notched up a 2-0 win to draw the bilateral friendly series 1-1 at the Bangalore Football Stadium here Wednesday.

Pakistan's goals came in the 38th and 89th minutes with skipper Kaleem Ullah and Saddam Hussein, respectively, doing the honours as the visitors avenged Sunday's loss.

India, who had won the first friendly Sunday 1-0, were found wanting in both attack and defence as there appeared a lack of direction and focus besides poor marking that aided the Pakistani attackers.

The match was just about average in quality with Pakistan having the better say in the exchanges with the Indians failing to put together an effective move while the few chances that did come their way were wasted.

Pakistan can take heart from the victory that served as a morale booster for their campaign in the Asian Games next month in Korea where the Indian team too will be in the contest.

It was a rather disappointing first half for India who seemed to rely a bit too much on skipper Sunil Chhetri and, worse still, conceded acres of space for the Pakistanis to make their moves. The home team also sorely missed the inspirational striker Robin Singh who sat out the match with a red card suspension.

In the bargain, the visitors revelled in the new-found freedom to keep the Indian defence on tenter-hooks with waves of attacks that, however, lacked in sharpness to fetch goals.

Chhetri probably had the best of scoring opportunities when he unleashed a long-range shot that goalkeeper Saqib Hanif did well to fist over.

Later, Chhetri set up a fine opportunity when he fed debutant Haokip Thonhkosiem whose shot was blocked by Hanif and the rebound went to Francis Fernandes, the other senior in the squad who failed to cash in on the chance.

A relieved Pakistan then launched a series of attacks and past the 38th, Lalrindika Ralte brought down skipper Kaleem Ullah just outside the box and the Pakistani spearhead made no mistake with the consequent direct free-kick that beat custodian Amrinder Singh as the visitors took a 1-0 lead.

A desperate India then went on the offensive, but their moves seemed to lack conviction and were easily parried by an alert Pakistani defence as the teams went into the break with the visitors sitting pretty.

The trend of creating and missing chances continued in the second-half that saw the Pakistanis tightening their defence with close marking to repeatedly frustrate the Indians.

The hosts did have a couple of promising chances, but as in the first session, accuracy was often traded for power and these lapses were to prove costly.

Late in the game, Saddam Hussein, who had muffed a sitter moments earlier, again slipped through an inert Indian defence to place the ball past Amrinder Singh for Pakistan's second goal.

(Posted on 20-08-2014)

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