Sunil Chhetri's late free-kick rescued a point for the defending champions after Meshu had put Bangladesh ahead.
By Rahul Bali with Ayush Srivastava at the stadium
Bangladesh and India drew 1-1 in a 2013 SAFF Championship Group A encounter at the Halchowk stadium in Kathmandu. The Indian skipper, Sunil Chhetri stepped up to curl in a free-kick deep into stoppage time to save the game for his side.
India now have four points from their two matches while Bangladesh have opened their account with a point to show from two games at the SAFF Championship.
Wim Koevermans made one change to his line-up from the last outing against Pakistan as Jewel Raja made his way in for Alwyn George. Following their 2-0 defeat to Nepal in the SAFF Championship opener, Bangladesh coach Lodewijk de Kruif tinkered with his starting eleven by bringing in Mobarak Husain Bhuyan, Omar Babu, Mohammad Rana into the line-up.
Thereafter India did manage to find the back of the net though their joy was shortlived with the linesman raising the offside flag. This was after Francis crossed for Chhetri who missed it with Jeje Lalepkhlua putting the chance to bed with a neat finish.
The game then became embroiled in a midfield battle with India coming out on top but failing to threaten the opposition’s backline. After the half hour mark, Francis’ volley went over the bar after Mohanraj did the dirty work of evading past a couple of Bangladesh shirts to find the former. Arnab Mondal had an opportunity to score from a Mehtab Hossain corner but he failed to direct his header on target.
The Blue Tigers enjoyed most of the possession in the first half but were guilty of not bringing their star striker Chhetri into the game.
After the break, the game began opening up. Mehtab’s flag-kick created confusion ion the opposition’s box with neither Lenny Rodrigues nor Gouramangi Moirangthem being able to dispatch the ball home. At the other end, Mobarak Bhuyan crossed for Mohamed Ameli whose header was easily collected by Subrata Paul.
Before the hour mark, Jewel’s header fell kindly for Chhetri with only the goalkeeper to beat, however with the defender applying pressure, he skewed his shot wide. Mobarak Bhuyan kept attacking from the right as he makes a yard for himself against Arnab Mondal to put in a venomous cross. It was an alert Gouramangi who cleared the danger with Ameli in front of him.
India began looking sluggish in the middle of the park with Bangladesh throwing men forward in the search of a goal. Koevermans introduced Arata for the final quarter in place of Lenny and it had an instant impact. Chhetri managed to find Jewel who wasted too much time on the ball and in the end sent in a tame shot.
Mamunul Mamun, the Bangladesh skipper, just after a minute of coming on played an important part in the goal. It was his corner that reached Atiqur Meshu at the far post whose deflected shot went in the back of the net.
Robin Singh was thrown into the mix as India only punted the ball forward for the two strikers which brought little reward. India did manage to win a free-kick in the final minute of the added time and Chhetri saved the day for the defending champions by scoring the equaliser.
India certainly needs to improve their performances which lack energy. Bangladesh were left stunned with the Chhetri goal but it was certainly a better performance from the opening day defeat to Nepal.
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