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The Under-23 side had to settle for a draw after suspect defending almost guaranteed a loss, Chhetri scuppers hosts by scoring a brace...

In a tumultuous friendly as part of their exposure tour ahead of the upcoming Asian Games, an U-23 Indian team drew with Czech second division side FK Banik Most with the score line reading 2-2.

The match started off well enough for the visitors with Lalrindika Ralte and Pranoy Halder combining well in the centre of park with Sunil Chhetri dropping deep to aid them whenever possible and this resulted in some spanking moves.

Though the hosts pressed and looked for an opener, Amrinder Singh in goal appeared to be in no mood to let them pass. As the half wearied on, the visitors sought to grab the initiative, with Mandar Rao Desai being put through on goal by a beautiful Chhetri layoff, but capitulated in the face of a one-on-one situation and dragged the ball wide.

What was encouraging to see over the first 45 minutes was the effectiveness in the partnership of Robin Singh and Francis Fernandes, who looked sharp on the left. Ralte too was brilliant in the centre of the park.

Chhetri opened the scoring in the second half, almost immediately after the interval, as he used his skill to give two defenders the slip before eluding the clutch of the keeper and finishing in style. However, the home side proved themselves to be no pushovers with a strike just two minutes later by substitute Smok in the 49th.

Things would get worse for the Blue Tigers in the 63rd as some diabolical defending saw the hosts gain the upper edge thanks to Conka, their skipper, who finished from close range. The Czech’s then looked to hold onto their lead with them inviting India forward, as Chhetri and Ralte swindled good chances.

Finally parity was restored in the 88th minute as Chhetri grabbed his second on the day after being sent through on goal in a setup that involved a brilliant Robin Singh dummy. He made no mistake with the finish as India breathed a huge sigh of relief.

The side now face TJ Domazlice in the final exposure tour tie on August 3rd.