At the Kalinga Stadium in this city on Sunday, June 18, India won the Intercontinental Cup after defeating a young Lebanon team by two goals in the second half.
In the 2023 Hero Intercontinental Cup final on Sunday, June 18, at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, India runs it back against Lebanon. Although they are still unbeaten in the competition, the Blue Tigers were unable to defeat the guests in their last most group encounter.
In the last league game of the competition, Lebanon held India to a scoreless draw, therefore India upped its efforts to score as Lebanon dug in defensively. India’s finishing problems persisted during the unsuccessful first session, during which the host created a few opportunities but failed to capitalise on them.
In the sixth minute, after Ashique Kuruniyan was brought down inside the Lebanon area after being impeded by the opposing defender Hussain Zain, India loudly yelled for a penalty. India recommenced its unsuccessful attempt to score, but the referee ignored the call.
In the 16th minute, Sahal Abdul Samad evaded a few Lebanon players before sending a square pass to Chhetri. But the Lebanon defence intercepted the ball before the Indian skipper could get to it. India’s fortunes changed after the switch of ends, as the home team took the lead in the first minute when Chhetri (46′) scored his 87th goal in international play owing to some good teamwork on the right side from Nikhil Poojary and Chhangte. The Indian camp was energised by the goal and went in search of more to complete the triumph.
The last 45 minutes were “the best from India in the last 50 years.”
After making a few adjustments to freshen up the assault, head coach Igor Stimac’s team did get the insurance goal.
In the 66th minute, India extended their advantage when Naoram Mahesh Singh. A replacement, was let free by Chhetri to the left. The winger attempted a rasping left-foot shot, but Ali Sabeh of Lebanon stopped it. Close by, Chhangte was waiting to score off the rebound. India achieved their first victory over Lebanon since 1977. As a result, and following the 2021 SAFF Championship, Stimac’s administration added a second trophy. This was sufficient to ensure India’s victory since Lebanon was successfully contained by the Indian defence, which was led by Sandesh Jhingan and Anwar Ali in the centre. And on the flanks, Nikhil Poojary and Akash Mishra.
The victory also ended a 46-year streak in which India had not defeated Lebanon, ending a long-standing curse. India had won the first encounter in 1977. While in the next six encounters, the host had suffered three draws and three defeats. The victory brought an end to India’s camp in Bhubaneswar. Now the emphasis shifts to Bengaluru. Where India will launch its next campaign on June 21 in order to retain its SAFF Championship title.
India defeated Lebanon 2–0 (Chhetri, 46; Chhangte, 66).
India XI (4-2-3-1):
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (GK);
Nikhil Poojary, Sandesh Jhingan, Anwar Ali, Akash Mishra;
Anirudh Thapa, Jeakson Singh;
Lallianzuala Chhangte, Sahal Abdul Samad, Ashique Kuruniyan; Sunil Chhetri
Subs: Amrinder (GK), Gurmeet (GK), Bheke, Subhasish, Rahim, Liston, Udanta, Sekar, Rohit, Pritam, Mehtab, Mahesh
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