After suffering a 3-0 loss in their first Group A fixture, the hosts, India took on Colombia in search of their first ever World Cup finals victory. The story didn’t pan out as good as expected, but the Boys in Blue put up a spirited performance, which is worthy of an applause.
In the opening spell of the tie, both the teams struggled to keep hold of the ball. India didn’t have the explosive Komal Thatal to burst forward, so it was Abhijit Sarkar up top, chasing every ball. Colombia fielded their best possible XI but had a bit of nerve in the opening minutes. They had more of the ball, but India did quite well to keep them out of dangerous areas.
The first real chance was created by the hosts when Boris and Abhijit Sarkar’s brilliant one-two sliced up the Colombian defence. The Colombian stopper, however, rushed in to make a crucial save. Colombia hit back with a couple of counters forcing Indian stopper, Dheeraj, to make some decisive saves.
The best chance of the match for India came just before half-time when a fantastic ball from the right found Rahul KP at the edge of the area. He controlled the ball and hit a left-footed volley, which unfortunately was halted by the crossbar.
In the second half, India started the game a little brighter than their opponents and once again created the better chances. But like their previous tie against the USA, India failed to capitalize when on top. Colombia drew first blood, thanks to Juan Penaloza’s fantastic curling finish.
After conceding the first goal, India once again charged up the field. There were frustrating passages of play, but the breakthrough finally came, and it came through a fantastic corner. Jeakson Singh, the tallest player in the side, thumped the ball home from close range. India’s first ever goal in a World Cup was recorded from a set piece.
The Jawaharlal Nehru stadium erupted as they saw their side celebrate a stunning goal. But sadly, ecstasy turned to despair in a matter of moments as Colombia took the lead once again through a smart passage of play, with the goalscorer Juan Penaloza once again at the end of it. The match ended 1-2 in favour of the South Americans who are sitting behind Ghana on goal difference.
Even though India did not end up with the result they were hoping for, every Indian who witnessed today’s encounter must have been a little proud of how the 17-year-olds have performed against a far superior, world-class side. The Boys in Blue will face their final group stage fixture against Ghana on Thursday.
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