India held to goalless draw by Lebanon in Intercontinental Cup game

India’s senior men’s team drew 0-0 against Lebanon in the final group match of the Intercontinental Cup on Thursday at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar. The game was evenly contested, with both sides having chances to score, but neither could find the breakthrough.

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Lebanon had already secured their spot as India’s opponents in the Intercontinental Cup final, as Vanuatu defeated Mongolia 1-0 earlier in the day. Similar to the match against Mongolia, India aimed to start strongly and came close to scoring in the third minute. Chhangte’s low cross from the right flank found Anirudh Thapa in the penalty area, but his attempt went wide of the far post.

India controlled the tempo of the Intercontinental Cup final stage game for the most part, but Lebanon posed a threat on the counterattack. In the 10th minute, Lebanon’s captain, Hassan Maatouk, manoeuvred near the edge of the box before striking a powerful shot over the bar.

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India’s first shot on target came from a move on the left wing, as Udanta Singh delivered a low cross for Ashique Kuruniyan, whose effort was saved by goalkeeper Ali Sabeh. On the other end, Amrinder had to make a difficult save to deny Soony Saad’s header following a precise cross from Hussein Zein. Minutes later, Chhangte’s free-kick from 30 yards sailed just over the bar.

Lebanon started the second half strongly, enjoying more possession and putting pressure on the Indian defense. Zein Farran was their main threat on the right wing with his pace and dribbling skills. In the 53rd minute, he evaded Mishra and took a powerful shot on goal, but Anwar made a crucial block.

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India took time to settle in the second half but eventually gained momentum. Sahal received a well-threaded ball from Udanta, but he was judged offside by a narrow margin. In the following minute, Chhangte’s cross from the by-line narrowly missed Udanta, who attempted an overhead kick that went over the bar.

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India finished the game strongly, with the crowd of ten thousand cheering as Chhetri came on for the final 10 minutes. Rahim Ali, another substitute, had a golden opportunity when Thapa found him unmarked, but he hesitated between shooting and setting up a teammate, and the chance was wasted. Minutes before full-time, Chhetri’s header from a Thapa corner went wide.

The Intercontinental Cup final between India and Lebanon is scheduled to be played on June 18.

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