India suffered a 1-0 defeat to Tajikistan in the match for 11th place after Panziev Ozodbek’s (40’) stunner found no reply from the young tigers. Goalkeeper Prabhsukhan Gill impressed in this narrow defeat.
Floyd Pinto's side had gone down to Kyrgyz Republic 3-1 via penalty shootout in the 9-12th place play-off game and had earlier lost against Russia (3-0) and Moldova (2-1) besides recording a 1-1 draw against Bulgaria in the group stage.
India were without key players Ninthoi Meetei and Vikram Partap Singh owing to injuries while Sumit Rathi was suspended for the Tajikistan game.
Tajikistan slowly took control of proceedings as the plot started taking shape but custodian Prabhsukhan Gill was hardly tested.
India’s first moment in the game arrived in the 25th minute when Rohit Danu created trouble for the Tajikistan defence on the left. But there was no Indian shirt at the end of his pass in the opposition box.
Tajikistan took the lead before half-time following a moment of magic from Ozodbek. The youngster received a pass from captain Zairov Islom near the edge of the box on the left, carried it into the box and scored an absolute stunner, catching Gill by surprise at the far post.
Looking to build on their slender lead, Tajikistan started the second half on the front foot and almost scored a second following a set-piece routine. But Akash Mishra produced a tremendous goal-line clearance to prevent them from doubling their advantage.
Danu was again the source of creativity for India when he set up Jeakson Singh after a passage of some individual skill but the midfielder failed to convert.
India’s best chance of the second 45 arrived in the 69th minute with Givson Singh providing Tajikistan goalkeeper Qirigizboev Shohrukh something to work on with a strong left-footed effort. But the keeper replied with an equally brilliant fingertip to prevent it from hitting the back of the net.
Gill produced a couple more quality saves to keep Tajikistan from breaching the goal-line at the end of the game.
The Indians thus ended their Granatkin Memorial Tournament with a 1-0 defeat to Tajikistan.