Despite holding a seemingly unassailable 3-0 lead at halftime, India U-18 national team lost 3-4 to Bangladesh U-18 in the opening match of this year's SAFF U-18 Championship at the Changlimithang Stadium in Thimpu, Bhutan. Lalawmpuia, Edmund and Princeton netted the goals for India in the 18th, 32nd and 47th minute respectively.
Lalrindika Edmund and Lalawmpuia joined Roshan Singh in the final third of the pitch while Aditya Patra remained the last line of defence in goal for what would later turn out to be goal-fest.
India started the match brightly courtesy of some wonderful wing play on both flanks but it was striker Roshan Singh who managed to consistently get the better of his markers in the Bangladesh defence.
The striker forced a save from the goalkeeper as early as the 11th minute before going down inside the box only for the referee to wave play on.
The early efforts paid off in the 18th minute as a terrific pass from defence found Lalawmpuia's run. The forward neatly tucked the ball past the goalkeeper to give India the lead.
GOAL! Lalawmpuia gives India U18 boys the lead against Bangladesh in their first fixture of the #SAFFU18 Championship 2017. #BackTheBlue. pic.twitter.com/qyr6SdjK6a — Indian Football Team (@IndianFootball) September 18, 2017
In the 31st minute, a well-won spot kick was neatly dispatched by Edmund into the corner of the net to double India's lead. The goalkeeper stood no chance despite guessing the right direction.
Ten minutes later, India's defenders were called into action for a goal-line clearance and despite a slight dip in concentration, India brought their fairytale first half to an end by adding a stunning third goal before the break.
Rebello Princeton scored a sensational free kick 30 yards from goal to sent India into the dressing room with a 3-0 lead.
GOAL! Rebello Princeton scores a stunner, triples the lead for India against Bangladesh at the #SAFFU18 Championship 2017.#BackTheBlue pic.twitter.com/TbO9ipmnDE — Indian Football Team (@IndianFootball) September 18, 2017
While the first half depicted India's dominance, the second half told a completely different story. Bangladesh passed the ball around with purpose and aggression. Although Lalengzama had his shot hit the crossbar, it was Bangladesh's players who had most of the joy until the final whistle.
A couple of good goals and a third goal courtesy of India's defensive lapse later, Bangladesh looked favourites to grab maximum points going into the final few minutes of the game. The Bengal Tigers scored from a corner in the added time after ninety minutes to register a 4-3 win over the India Colts in their SAFF U-18 Championship opener.
India will now take on hosts Bhutan on September 22.
The starting XI for India U-18 today:
Aditya Patra, Jayananda Singh Moirangthem, Lalliansanga Renthlei, Sahil Panwar, Lalrindika Edmund, Lalengzama Vangchhia, Lalawmpuia, Princeton Rebello, Asish Rai, Zonunmawia, Roshan Singh Naorem.