International Friendly: Cambodia 2-3 India - Second half surge sees Blue Tigers scrape to a win
Jackichand Singh, Jeje Lalpekhlua uplift Stephen Constantine's men in the second period to a narrow win away from home...

India managed to eke out Cambodia helping themselves to a 2-3 win at the Olmypic Stadium in Phnom Penh in an international friendly on Wednesday.

Sunil Chhetri (36') opened the scoring for the visitors with an easy goal from a flag-kick but Khoun Laboravy (37') equalised immediately. Second half substitues Jeje Lalpekhlua (50') and Sandesh Jhingan (54') restored the lead with Jackichand Singh assisting the Mizoram born-striker to bring up his eighth goal for India in his last eight games.  Cambodia's star striker Chan Vathanaka (64') got one back for his side as he beat a hapless Gurpreet Singh Sandhu from outside the box with a well directed strike.

The Blue Tigers were tentative as the match was underway, giving Cambodia the initiative. The Angkor Warriors seized on it with both hands as they dominated the proceedings for the majority of the first half.

The home side had their first real chance of the match following a set piece delivery from midfielder Polroth who found Vathanaka in acres of space down the left. The striker put his head up and swung in a delightful ball that skipper Thierry managed to somehow smash over the goal. 

In the 17th minute, Vathanaka was guilty of missing himself as he failed to beat Gurpreet from close range after his strike-partner Laboravy had set him up from the right. 

India had a rare chance in the 20th minute after Pritam Kotal managed to go on the overlap but his teasing cross was missed by both Robin Singh and Fulganco Cardozo in the box. 

Cambodia came at India with all guns blazing but left their shooting boots at home. First Samouen shot straight to Gurpreet instead of passing it to his team-mates before defender Visal was inches away from turning in a corner with Gurpreet Singh Sandhu well stranded. 

Sandhu showed good presence in the 33rd minute as he came out of his line to clear the danger with Vathanaka having beaten the Indian backline. 

However, it was India who surged into the lead against the run of play. A regulation corner from Eugeneson Lyngdoh was scuttled by the Cambodia No. 1 allowing Sunil Chhetri to caress the ball into the empty net. However India's lead hardly lasted a minute as Cambodia equalised immediately follwing the restart. 

Arnab Mondal gave too much space to Udom down the left and he swung in a perfect ball to the unmarked Laboravy who smashed it past a hapless Gurpreet who was left to watch. 

Cambodia interestingly had a penalty turned down the following minute after Vathanaka was brought down by Cardozo but the referee waved play on. 

A barrage of corners followed in the dying moments of the half with India barely holding on to the tie. 

It was a different India though following the restart with Jeje Lalpekhlua and Sandesh Jhingan being brought in to add to Jackichand Singh who was subbed in the first half itself in place of CK Vineeth. 

The two subs combined to bring India back into the lead in the 50th minute. Jackichand darted in field from the left, dribbled past two players and managed to toe poke the ball onto Jeje's path before losing his footing. The Mizoram striker took it in his stride and smashed it to the far post, with the ball going in after hitting the post. 

Robin Singh could have scored himself in the next minute when he was one-on-one with the keeper after Eugeneson had played a lovely through ball but only managed to hit it straight to the custodian. However Sandesh Jhigan made up for it as he rose up highest to power in a header from the resulting corner to open up a two goal advantage for India. 

The goal seemed to uplift the Koupreys who were second best to India in the second half and Vathanaka reduced the deficit two minutes from the hour mark. 

Picking up the ball outside the box with no defenders closing him down, he took his time and found the far corner with ease, beating a diving Gurpreet. 

Vathanaka again came close from a freekick ten minutes later but the Indian custodian did well to dive to his left and concede a corner from the effort. 

It was all Cambodia for the remainder of the match as India held on, but the lack of composure upfront cost the youthful side as India held on to win 3-2. 

India play their next match against Mynamar on 28th March. 


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