Sunil Chhetri leads from front to guide Blue Tigers to Title: Intercontinental Cup

Skipper Sunil Chhetri continued his brilliant form, striking a brace as India defeated Kenya 2-0 to clinch the Intercontinental Cup at the Mumbai Football Arena here on Sunday. Chhetri, who scored in the eighth and twenty ninth minutes to hand India a convincing victory, also equalled Argentina’s Lionel Messi’s tally of 64 international goals, making him the joint-second active international goalscorer behind Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo (81 goals). With the stadium jam-packed with Indian fans, the hosts started on an aggressive note as they penetrated the Kenyan defense twice in the first minute.

  1. India beat Kenya 2-0 to clinch Intercontinental Cup title.
  2. Both goals were scored by captain Sunil Chhetri.
  3. Chhetri took his international tally to 64 goals – equalling Lionel Messi’s haul as well.
  4. This was India’s third major trophy in the recent years.

India controlled the ball in the first half, drew its rival deep and hit via long balls, using Chhetri’s pace and control as the spearhead in attack. The defence then absorbed pressure from Kenya’s fightback in the second half allied with Gurpreet’s efforts under ensured the title.

India went into the break with a two-goal lead and did well to hold on to it in the second half of the match. Kenya attacked with venom in the early exchanges but Gurpreet Singh Sandhu stood tall, making two splendid saves – one from a long-range piledriver and one from a free-kick.

India were the best team in the competition and are worthy winners. Time for the team to celebrate the success before moving on to greater things

Chhetri finished as the top scorer with eight goals. The final’s first goal came off a free-kick, won by Chhetri as the jittery Kenyans used all means to keep him away from the ball. Anirudh Thapa took his time as players took positions in the box. He then tapped ahead to give his captain time to step back and away from his marker and sweep home.

Another great positive going ahead was the huge crowd support for Chhetri’s men. Fans again turned up in huge numbers and were vocal right from the word go. Their presence and cheers throughout the 90 minutes was a added bonus even the players couldn’t stop appreciating.

The 33-year-old Chhetri, who was playing in his 102nd international match, and Messi are behind leader and Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo who has 81 goals from 150 matches.