Sun, Jun 03, 2018 - Page 11 News List

India crush Taiwan 5-0 in Hero Intercontinental opener

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Taiwan on Friday could not contain India’s ferocious onslaught and individual brilliance as the hosts celebrated a 5-0 victory to open the Hero Intercontinental Cup at the Mumbai Football Arena.

India captain and striker Sunil Chhetri netted twice in the first half and completed the hat-trick in the second half, while midfielders Udanta Singh and Pronoy Halder also scored.

The five-goal margin was the heaviest defeat for Taiwan’s national squad under English head coach Gary White since he took over in September last year.

Chhetri opened the account in the 14th minute, when he took a pass from Mizoram striker Jeje Lalpekhlua and split Taiwan fullbacks Chen Ting-yang and Wang Chien-ming before rolling the ball into the far corner past goalkeeper Pan Wen-chieh.

Fleet-footed Chhetri then played one-two passes with Lalpekhlua and midfielder Anirudh Thapa in the 34th minute, bursting through to the goal by accelerating past Taiwan captain Chen Wei-chuan. He slotted it home through Pan’s legs from an acute angle to double the lead.

India’s attacking line, with their swift pace and passing combination, exposed Taiwan’s frail and disorganized defense, but Pan made several good saves to keep the game close in the first half.

Minutes after the intermission, attacking midfielder Singh collected a long pass and surged inside the box with fancy footwork, turning Chen Wei-chuan inside out and scoring to give India a 3-0 lead.

At the hour mark, Chhetri collected his first-ever hat-trick in national colors by evading his markers from a corner. Making a diagonal run inside the box, he drilled a shot into the roof of the goal after six Taiwan defenders were slow to react, failing to close in on the threat.

Halder completed the scoring in the 78th minute, when he stole the ball from Taiwan substitute defender Tu Shao-chieh on the right touchline. Halder blasted a long-distance effort from just outside of the box past a leaping Pan.

“This was a learning experience for us. We will try to fix our gray areas. Unless you try these players, you will never know,” White said after the match, referring to four Taiwan players making their international debut.

India head coach Stephen Constantine, who also hails from England, said he was pleased with the result.

“Everything clicked and worked for us. The boys gave everything they had... There were some very encouraging performances from the young players and I am very pleased,” Constantine said.

“There’s no surprise [about Chhetri’s performance] and that is why I play him. He is capable of turning the game at any given time. He is a fantastic player,” he added.

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