India U-23 registered a convincing 1-0 win over Singapore U-23 team in the first of two friendly matches played in Singapore today.
An exciting match-up saw both teams play attacking football and in the end, Germanpreet Singh's effort in the 80th minute proved to be the match winner.
India started the match brightly and went close in the 14th minute as Daniel's free kick flew just wide off the post.
The hosts were not prepared to sit back and picked up the rhythm of the game very soon. In the 22nd minute, Singapore's Ikhsan Fandi's fantastic footwork allowed him to get into the box, but his dangerous run was cleared for a corner.
Six minutes later, Fandi threatened once again, getting involved in a foot race with India's centre backs after a smooth passing combination from the hosts' midfielders produced a neat through ball but the forward was unable to beat them for pace.
In the 29th minute, Nandakumar got to the end of a cross from the right flank but his exuberant effort curled away from the post.
The 38th minute saw Taufik Suparno try to latch onto the ball after a wonderful one-two by Singapore midfielders was thwarted by India's defence but the India Colts skipper Lalruatthara slid into a dangerous tackle and gifted a free kick in a dangerous area.
The free kick did not produce an effort on goal but the difference in approach from two teams was evident. India were keen on utilizing the full width of the pitch whereas Singapore stuck to passes through the middle. The first half ended goalless but the visitors were the dominant team.
Lallianzuala Chhangte came on for Nikhil Poojary after the break and it did not take too long for him to make his mark on the game. In the 51st minute, the young Mizoram-born youngster whipped a cross into the box from the left that forced a panicked clearance from the defenders.
At the hour mark, a cross from the left was flicked by Daniel into the path of an unmarked Chhangte. The youngster safely converted the chance but it was ruled offside.
Anirudh Thapa dictated proceeding for the visitors in midfield but his long balls over the top of defence repeatedly failed to reach their intended targets through no fault of his own. He was replaced by Robinson Singh in the 71st minute.
Chhangte once again came close in the 76th minute, this time through a counter attack that produced a close range save from the Singapore custodian.
As the game went on, Stephen Constantine rang the changes to pile up pressue on Singapore. The changes seemed to energize India Colts and the opening goal came soon after, in the 80th minute.
The Singapore defence failed to clear Nandakumar's cut-back from the right and the deflection found midfielder Germanpreet Singh who curled a wonderful shot into the top left corner that proved to be the winner.
India put in a solid defensive performance to keep the Singapore forwards at bay and had no trouble holding on till the final whistle.
The second match is scheduled for July 12.