Sunil Chhetri marked his 100th international appearance with a brace as India beat Kenya 3-0 at the Mumbai Football Arena on Monday. A converted penalty and a 92nd-minute lob over the Kenyan goalkeeper by the Indian captain, coupled with Jeje Lalpekhlua’s strike in the 71st minute helped India blank the Kenyans and extend their lead at the top of the table in the Intercontinental Cup.
All seats available to the general public was taken as fans responded to Chhetri’s call for support in the stadium in a video that went viral after India’s 5-0 win over Chinese Taipei on Friday. Torrential rains led to a slow start to the match as both the teams struggled for possession and timing. Large puddles in the middle of the pitch and in front of the box broke the momentum of play on several occasions. However, it was Kenya who started on the front foot. The African country even had two close chances in the first half but failed to find the back of the net. Sandesh Jhinghan, Pritam Kotal and goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu were resolute in defence as India managed to keep a clean sheet at halftime.
Kenya finally paid the price for the missed efforts in the second half as Chhetri earned a penalty after being brought down in the 68th minute. It was a contentious call as replays showed that contact occurred just outside the box. A powerful low-driven shot led the ball past the keeper to give India the lead. Moments later, Jeje latched on to a brilliant low cross by Holicharan Narzary’s to double the lead on the night.
India continued to keep possession of the ball and their dominance was established when Chhetri scored in the 91st minute by courtesy of a fine assist by Balwant Singh. With this win, India now have one foot in the final and play New Zealand in their next fixture.
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