With this achievement, Chhetri solidified his position as the second-highest goal-scorer in international football among Asian players, trailing behind Iran’s Ali Daei, who holds the record with 109 goals from 149 matches.Chhetri’s current goal tally stands at an impressive 90.
Right from the start of the match, India displayed their experience and quality on the field. Although Pakistan offered pockets of resistance, they were no match for India’s cohesion and determination, especially on a rain-soaked night at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium.
AS IT HAPPENED
Chhetri, who had already demonstrated glimpses of his former energetic self in the Intercontinental Cup final against Lebanon, elevated his performance on his home ground.
In the 10th minute, he opened the scoring with a fine field goal. Just six minutes later, the Indian captain extended the lead by converting a penalty, firmly establishing India’s dominance.
In the first half, India pressed for more goals, but the resilient Pakistan defense held their ground, preventing further additions to the scoreline. India also missed a couple of chances to increase the pressure on their opponents, although those opportunities were not easy to convert.
Unfortunately, the first half ended on a disappointing note for India as coach Igor Stimac received a red card for obstructing a Pakistan player during a throw-in, forcing him to leave the dugout for the remainder of the match.
However, India’s momentum did not waver in the second half. They continued their attacking onslaught, relentlessly searching for more goals. The breakthrough came in the 74th minute when Pakistan defenders fouled Chhetri inside the box.
Referee Prajwal Chhetri awarded a penalty kick, which the Indian skipper confidently converted, completing his hat-trick and effectively securing an insurmountable lead for India.
In the 81st minute, Udanta Singh added to the visitors’ misery by scoring another goal for India. The opportunity arose when Sandesh Jhingan provided a well-timed through pass, allowing Udanta to embark on a swift and decisive run towards the goal.
With skill and speed, Udanta successfully placed the ball beyond the reach of the Pakistan goalkeeper, further widening India’s lead and sealing their comprehensive victory.
“Happy to keep a clean sheet, happy to start the tournament. Matches in these kinds of conditions are never easy. Happy people turned up, this is amazing, this is what we play for,” Chhetri said after the match.
India’s impressive performance in the match against Pakistan was met with great enthusiasm and excitement from the crowd of 22,860 spectators, who braved the heavy downpour to fill the stadium. The team’s dominant display undoubtedly thrilled the fans, who witnessed a remarkable performance despite the challenging weather conditions.
India now look forward to their upcoming match against Nepal in their second Group A fixture on Saturday.