India retain Intercontinental Cup after 2-0 win over Lebanon

India successfully defended their Intercontinental Cup title, defeating Lebanon 2-0 in the final at Bhubaneswar’s Kalinga Stadium. Talisman Sunil Chhetri scored his 87th international goal in the 2023 Intercontinental Cup finals, while Lallianzuala Chhangte added a second in the second half. India did not concede a single goal throughout the tournament.

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Head coach Igor Stimac had promised an exceptional performance on “Super Sunday,” and his team delivered. The victory secured the Intercontinental Cup for the Indian men’s senior team, adding to their initial triumph in 2018. The 2023 Intercontinental Cup marked the first time the Blue Tigers competed in the Odisha capital. They had claimed the title in 2018.

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India dominated the second half, with Chhetri finding the net shortly after the restart, capitalising on a well-executed attack from the right side. Chhangte, named the Player of the Match, extended the lead with a simple tap-in 20 minutes later.

India displayed purpose and determination from the beginning, putting pressure on Lebanon. The latter struggled to build their play and escape their own half in the 2023 Intercontinental Cup final.

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In the fifth minute, Chhetri initiated the first attack, sending a cross that narrowly missed Sahal Abdul Samad’s head inside the six-yard box.

Ashique Kuruniyan, operating on the left wing, posed a constant threat to the visiting defence. He delivered a low ball into the box for Sahal, who skilfully manoeuvred past defenders before attempting a cutback from the by-line. Unfortunately, a Lebanese foot cleared the ball before Chhetri could reach it.

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Lebanon continued to pose a threat on the counter, but they struggled to break through the solid defense led by Sandesh Jhingan. In the 22nd minute, Zein Farran launched a forward run on the right flank, passing to captain Hassan Maatouk, whose shot was heroically blocked by Jhingan. Just before halftime, Soony Saad unleashed a powerful long-range shot that Gurpreet Singh Sandhu safely parried away.

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India started the second half swiftly and capitalised on their chances. Chhetri’s 87th international goal came as a result of a superb team effort, with magnificent interplay on the right wing. Lallianzuala Chhangte provided a backheel pass to Nikhil Poojary near the touchline, who then sent a low cross across the face of the goal for Chhetri to tap in from close range, threading the ball through Sabeh’s legs.

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India continued their pursuit of a second goal. Jeakson Singh Thounaojam and Jhingan had headers go over the bar from two Anirudh Thapa corners in quick succession. Chhangte secured the victory, capitalising on a rebound from Naorem Mahesh Singh’s shot in the 65th minute.

Read More: India held to goalless draw by Lebanon in Intercontinental Cup game

India controlled the 2023 Intercontinental Cup final, preserving their two-goal lead and denying Lebanon scoring opportunities. Lebanon came closest to scoring in the 80th minute but missed a chance from a cross.

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