India beat Myanmar in Tri-Nation friendlies opener

The Indian team celebrates after Anirudh Thapa scores against Myanmar.
The Indian team celebrates after Anirudh Thapa scores against Myanmar.

Anirudh Thapa scored in added time of the first half to hand India a 1-0 win over Myanmar in the opening match of the Tri-Nation International Football Tournament, at the Khuman Lampak Stadium in Imphal on Wednesday.

Indian wingers Bipin Singh and Lallianzuala Chhangte looked lively from the start, as they made repeated inroads into the opposition third. Sunil Chhetri had a look in early on, as he headed a cross by Thapa over the crossbar. The India captain had another chance from a corner kick at the far post, but the effort produced the same result.

Local boy Jeakson Singh, playing a holding role, stood up to his task, nipping Myanmar attacks in the bud. Chhetri had another good chance just a little over the half-hour mark, when Chhangte played him in, but his shot from close range went straight into the keeper's gloves.

Minutes later, India 'keeper Amrinder Singh kept the scores level at the other end, when he pawed away Aung Thu's effort.

India finally found the breakthrough they were looking for during the injury time of the first half as Thapa latched on to a rebound inside the box and smashed it past the keeper from close range.

India head coach Igor Stimac decided to give more reason for the Imphal crowd to cheer, as he brought on Suresh Wangjam to replace Mohammad Yasir in the second half. Soon after, local boy Naorem Mahesh Singh got his debut as he and Manvir Singh replaced Bipin Singh and Chhangte.

India thought they had added another goal to their tally with little over quarter of an hour of regulation time left when Chhetri poked in a Thapa cross, but he was ruled offside.

The India captain had a crack at the rival goal just minutes later, but it was saved by the opposition keeper.

As the clock wore down, Ritwik Das was also given his debut. Das and Roshan Singh replaced Akash Mishra and Thapa. Seconds before the final whistle, the Myanmar goal had a close shave when Suresh's shot was saved by the 'keeper.