Indian football captain Sunil Chhetri was once again under the limelight as his brace in the first half helped India win the Intercontinental Cup against Kenya at the Mumbai Football Arena on Sunday. The Indian football captain has now equalled Argentine great Lionel Messi's tally as the joint second highest International scorer. He and Messi are equal on goals and are behind Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo.
In a sold-out Mumbai football arena, the electric atmosphere was all that the hosts needed and Chhetri and his men had no trouble in disposing off Kenya. Chettri scored in the 8th and 29th minute as India dominated proceedings throughout the match.
Sunil Chhetri and boys beat Kenya with 3-0 and Twitter can’t keep calm over their second Intercontinental Cup win
Going all out in an attacking fashion, the Blue Tigers had the momentum with them as they had already beaten Kenya in the league match and Chhetri's presence was there as well.
The eruptions, the Viking clap and the chants by the Indian fans sent goosebumps down every player's spine. The decibel level kept increasing whenever Chhetri was given the ball or whenever the Blue Tigers broke loose on the counter-attack.
Chhetri chested down a long pass from Anas Edathodika between two Kenyan defenders before firing in a low left-footer just inside the box that beat goalkeeper Patrick Matasi all ends up.
Chhetri had a chance to make it 3-0 and score another hat-trick but he shot over the bar off a free-kick in the 43rd minute. At the half-way stage, India were 2-0 ahead.
The star for India in the second half was their custodian Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, who ensured a clean sheet with some of his diving and breath-taking saves.
In the 46th minute came Kenya's best chance when Ovella Ochieng took a shot from a distance but Gurpreet made a diving save and the rebound went over the bar.
Chances kept coming for Kenya, but they were not able to convert them. In the 60th minute, Ochieng launched another long-ranger but Gurpreet came to the rescue as he pushed the ball back to be cleared by his defenders.
Whenever it looked like Kenya had a chance, Gurpreet stood in their way. In the 76th minute, Ochieng hit from outside the box off a free-kick, but the India custodian palmed it away.
The Indian defence, which was shaky in their 1-2 loss against New Zealand, was solid today as they kept the Kenyan strikers at bay. Especially, Holicharan Nazary and Sandesh Jhingan were simply outstanding.
India were back as a full strength side for the final after the head coach Stephen Constantine effected seven changes in the last league game against New Zealand, which they lost 1-2.