India hold China to a 0-0 draw in an international friendly match on Saturday at the Suzhou Olympic Sports Centre Stadium, Suzhou City.
Stephen Constantine made just one change in the Indian starting XI from Intercontinental Cup final against Kenya. Narayan Das replaced Anas Edathodika in defence which meant Subhashis Bose would play in central defence alongside today’s skipper Sandesh Jhingan.
Marcello Lippi lined up his side in a 4-2-3-1 formation similar to visitors India. They were in complete control of the game right from the beginning and kept the Indian defenders on their toes. Constantine’s men practically defended with six men as Thapa and Halder were forced to help the backline staying in and around the penalty box.
India had their first major chance of the match in the 13th minute. Sunil Chhetri sent a square pass from the edge of the box to Pronay Halder who in turn forwarded a diagonal pass to Anirudh Thapa. The Chennaiyin midfielder eyed Pritam Kotal’s overlapping run from the right side and laid-off to the right-back. Kotal’s powerful right-footer was brilliantly kept away by Chinese custodian Yan Junling.
Sunil Chhetri once again came close to break the deadlock in the 17th minute from Anirudh Thapa’s free-kick. Thapa curled the ball inside the box to which Chhetri went for a first time attempt. Unfortunately, his boot got stuck in the ground and the ball went above the crossbar.
China PR increased the intensity of their attacks as the match progressed. They could have scored the opening goal of the match in the 24th minute of the match when Gao Lin received a sudden square pass inside the box. His shot at goal from 12-yards was brilliantly saved by Gurpreet Singh Sandhu who extended his left foot to stop the shot.
Stephen Constantine’s men managed to keep the Chinese attackers silent for the first 45 minutes of the match.
Marcello Lippi introduced three new players in the beginning of the second half as China went all guns blazing. The home side came very close to score on three occasions within the first five minutes of the match the closest being Gao Lin whose shot hit the post.
X Zhi sent a square pass from the right flank inside the box and Lin attempted a first-time shot at goal. Luckily for the Indians that the shot hit the first post and went out.
In the 56th minute, Halicharan won a ball in the Chinese half and went ahead to square the ball for Udanta Singh. Udanta went for goal with a long-range attempt which went above the crossbar.
Constantine brought in Anas Edathodika and Nikhil Poojary at the hour mark in place of Narayan Das and Udanta respectively.
China were unlucky a second time when Wu Lei’s powerful shot from inside the box hit the crossbar and came back. Gao Lin laid-off a cross from the right flank for unmarked Lei who went for the goal.
Substitute Farukh Choudhary came close to score a historic goal for India in the 93rd minute from Nikhil Poojary’s diagonal ball inside the box. But the Chinese goalkeeper saved Farukh’s close-range shot at goal.
With tonight’s result, China PR are now winless in three consecutive matches. They have just picked two wins in seven matches in 2018 so far. India, on the other hand, come back from China with a historic result.