Kolkata, Nov 17: India's star striker Sunil Chhetri scored twice in either half as India beat Malaysia 3-2 in the second International friendly at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan here on Wednesday.
Chhetri scored in the 39th and 53d minute while fellow striker Jeje Lalpekhlua scored in the 47th minute.
For Malaysia, their gifted striker Mohammed Safi Sali scored in the 45th and 59th minute.
India made a fine display of attacking football. Having drawn the previous match at Guwahati 1-1 on Sunday, India made the perfect transition.
India's new coach Savio Madeira fielded eight new names in the starting line-up, compared to the side that turned out at Guwahati on Sunday. Chetri, Gourmangi Singh and Syed Rahim Nabi — named the captain for the match — were the three who were retained.
The Indians got rid of the initial sluggishness and settled to a nice rhythm by the half-hour mark. The remarkable aspect of the Indian performance remained in the novel blending in the attack that had the experienced Chetri pairing effectively with the youthful Lalpekhlua.
Tipped as the two best attackers in business, after the retirement of Baichung Bhutia, they impressed with their sense of opportunism and knack for scoring, reports The Hindu.
An effective combination in the midfield added more fluidity as Lalrindika Ralte, Baldeep Singh, Rocus Lamare and Francis Fernandes, entrusted with the creative role, stuck commendably to their tasks.
The efforts paid off in the 39th minute when the reflexive Chetri, after neatly receiving a long floater from skipper Nabi, finished with a deft half-volley.
Malaysia levelled the score just before the break. It came off a fine essay of passes in the Indian box, which the host's defenders failed to check, allowing the deft Sali to slot home.
Redoubling their resolve to regain the lead, the Indians adopted a more aggressive approach after the break. It succeeded in its mission within two minutes into the second half as Chetri authored a brilliant move that Lalpekhlua finished with a deft placement.
After Lalpekhlua missed an opportunity that came close on heels of the second goal, Chetri did the atonement for the former by finishing the next opportunity in the 52nd minute (3-1).
Medeira exhausted his quota of substitution — which is six for an international friendly — to preserve the lead but could not stop the visitor from narrowing the margin. Sali proved his class again when he caught the Indian defence on the wrong foot in the 59th minute.
The host effectively sealed up its defence hereafter.