Gold Cup 2019: Resolute India beat Iran 1-0

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AIFF
The defence kept the Iran attack in check, Sanju impressed in the attacking third...

India edged past Iran 1-0 to get their 2019 Gold Cup campaign off to a winning start on Saturday at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneshwar. 

Iran's attempts to break down a resilient Indian backline did not bear fruit and a 48th minute Anju Tamang goal was enough for the hosts to start with a win. 

Maryam Azmoun's team was intent on passing the ball around right from the off but Aditi Chauhan had very little to do in goal in the opening exchanges between the teams. 

While the visitors were restricted to long-range efforts for the entirety of the first half, India went close as early as the second minute. Dangmei Grace intercepted Fatemeh's pass to her centre-back partner ran straight at the goal. The Iran goalkeeper Zahra Khajavi pulled off a good one-handed save to parry Grace's shot away. 

An intense battle ensued in midfield as both teams struggled to keep the ball for long periods. Dangmei threatened again in the 30th minute, this time with a deep cross into the box that put the Iran keeper in a spot of bother as she tracked back to collect the ball. Ratanbala Devi surged in to get to the ball first but failed to beat the last line of defence.

Iran's influence grew as the half wore on. Zahra Alishah picked out Sara Ghomimarzdashti's run in behind the defence with a lofted through-ball. The Iran skipper beat Ashalata Devi by dropping her shoulder at the edge of the box but shot straight at an alert Aditi Chauhan in goal. 

India scored from a flowing move three minutes after the restart. Sanju started a move from the centre, squared it to her right to Indumathi who found Ratanbala at the edge of the box. Sanju received the ball back on the left flank and drilled the ball across the face of the goal for Anju Tamang who tapped it into the net. 

Sanju was alert to a misplaced pass minutes later, intercepting a crossfield ball and feeding Indumathi. The forward ran towards the edge of the box before sending a curling shot just wide of goal. 

The opposition's desperation to get back into the game opened up space for India and forced errors out of defenders. Manisha intercepted a pass out from the defence and passed to Sanju whose dipping effort was denied by the crossbar in the 82nd minute. 

Substitutions and fatigue slowed down the game and India held on to seal the win at the end of the ninety minutes. 

Myanmar beat Nepal 3-0 in the first match of the tournament earlier in the day. India will take on Nepal on Monday (February 11) at the same venue. 

India's starting lineup: Aditi Chauhan (GK, C); Dalima Chhibber, Sweety Devi, Ashalata Devi, Jabamani Tudu; Sangita, Indumathi K, Ratanbala Devi; Sanju, Dangmei Grace, Anju

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