Lawrence provides a fitting Climax for India

SCRAMBLE FOR THE BALL: India’s Baichung Bhutia and Afghanistan’s D. Shrityar in a midfield duel in the AFC football match.

SCRAMBLE FOR THE BALL: India’s Baichung Bhutia and Afghanistan’s D. Shrityar in a midfield duel in the AFC football match.   | Photo Credit: — Photo: P.V. Sivakumar

Abhijit Sen Gupta

HYDERABAD: An injury time goal by Climax Lawrence helped India beat Afghanistan 1-0 in Group A of the AFC Challenge cup football tournament here on Wednesday.

In the other match Tajikistan and Turkmenistan were locked in a goalless draw.

India started well but although the host dominated the proceedings for long periods in both halves, the goal did not materialize till the very end.

India began with a series of fast attacks from the word go.

The first shot at the goal came from N.P. Pradeep in the 9th minute but it was well saved by Afghan goalie Shamsuddin Amiri who dived to punch the ball away.

The action almost constantly stayed within the Afghanistan area throughout the first half.

But the hard pressed defence managed to keep the Indian attacks at bay.

On one occasion Baichung Bhutia was felled within the box but his appeal for a penalty went unheeded.

Afghanistan depended upon fast counter attacks and twice came close to scoring.

Midway through the first half, the fleet footed Qadami found himself in possession of the ball near the top right corner of the box.

With plenty of time and space to shoot, he wasted the chance by shooting straight to goalie Subrata Pal.

Two minutes before the break Qadami again had a great opportunity. This time he was about ten yards away from the goalmouth and had only goalie Pal to beat. The forward took a powerful grounder but Pal showing amazing reflexes dived to his right and fisted the ball away.

Good moves

In the 70th minute Chhetri and Bhutia played out a series of passes putting Chhetri in a position to take the shot from a very close range.

But Afghan goalie Amiri did well to pluck the ball away from Chhetri in the nick of time.

India had another good chance late in the match when a scramble inside the Afghanistan box resulted in the goalie falling flat while the ball rolled away.

But before any Indian player could capitalise on the opportunity an Afghan defender managed to clear the ball to safety.

Then in injury time, came the all important goal.

At attack down the right flank ended with the goalie punching the ball away.

As it rolled to the left, Climax Lawrence ran in to smack it into the empty net.

Thursday’s matches:

DPR Korea vs Sri Lanka (4 p.m), Myanmar vs Nepal (6.30 p.m).

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