India were on the brink of qualifying for the knockouts but a late winner by Columbia ended the hosts' dreams a World Cup glory. Columbia defeated India 2-1 in a thriller. The boys in blue were bright from the start as they applied a lot of pressure on the visitors in terms of skills, pace and ball control but it was the South American team that got the better of the hosts with possession. India's forwards hit the crossbar twice in the first half which could have been decisive. India did create history as Jeakson Thounaojam became the first Indian to net in a goal in the FIFA World Cup.
Columbia winger Penaloza who came on as a substitute in the second half gave the visitors a fighting chance as by netting in an immediate goal after Jeakson's header.
A proud Indian coach Luis Norton de Matos said that the boys had shown a lot of heart and spirit throughout the game.
"A sleep with a sentiment, I am very proud of the team and also to be at this level of competition. The Indian players showed that they can play, especially to put up such a display in front of a strong team such as Columbia, I am very happy," said the Indian coach at the post-match press conference.
"I am also tired and frustrated as well, it’s always possible to win a game and today I had the feeling that we could make it to the next round. All the teams are difficult to play against but we needed to have more consistency in our offence."
India's forwards lost possession easily on the counter-attack at times where the visitors managed to build up pace with a series of passes to distract the Indian players out of the box.
"We are strong in our organization, we have improved our set pieces as well especially in our corners and tonight the boys displayed a brilliant set of actions and we need to keep working on the sets. When we played Mexico, Columbia and Chile, out of the 9 goals we conceded, 7 were from corners," said Matos.
"When you lose, you eventually learn a lesson and in football, everything must be very professional. For Dheeraj (GK) we hired a top goalkeeper coach for a month before the tournament."
Indian goalkeeper Dheeraj has been in top form in the two matches that the host nation played as the young lad made a series of saves which gave the boys in blue a fighting chance in the match.
"If we scored a goal before Columbia, we would have had a big chance in the game. After scoring the goal, the sentiments and the happiness displayed by the crowd got to the players and that’s where we lost our concentration. It was like a dream but the next minute we conceded a goal from Columbia. 1-1 could have been a fantastic result but experience counts."
Jeakson scored in the 82nd minute of the match through a well-taken corner. The forward headed the ball which was out of reach for the Columbian goalkeeper, thus giving the hosts an equaliser. What the Indians did not realise was that they allowed the visitors to capitalise on the celebratory moment and net in a late winner to seal the match in their favour.
"Our boys need a lot more competitions like and all I can say is that India have a fantastic future ahead of them," concluded Matos.
India still have a fighting chance if they are able to defeat Ghana through a goal difference in the group and if USA defeat Columbia. India play Ghana on October 12 in the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi.