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Bhaichung brace floors Bangladesh

Ulsan: Bhaichung Bhutia scored twice as India exploited a sloppy defence to trounce Bangladesh 3-0 in their first match in group C in the Asian Games football competition Friday.

After a goalless opening session, India turned on the heat in the second half and slammed in three quick goals to change the complexion of a match which seldom rose to great heights.

The Indian skipper fired in the first two goals while Rennedy Singh came up with a brilliant long-ranger to round off the tally on the opening day of football, which began two days ahead of the official opening ceremony.

In spite of posting a convincing win, India suffered a body blow in the 89th minute when the referee from Oman showed the red card to key defender Dipak Mondal for a dangerous tackle.

In the other group C match, China overcame Turkmenistan 4-0.

The Indians, who are showing a marked improvement under new coach Stephen Constantine, were tentative in the opening half but regained rhythm after the break to keep alive hopes of a place in the quarter finals.

Bhutia fired the first goal in the 47th minute with a header and scored the next with a neat placement from close 18 minutes later. The hard working Rennedy struck a minute later with a long-range curler which eluded the reach of goalkeeper Biplab Bhattacharjee.

Bangladesh never recovered from the assault although they did come dangerously close on a couple of occasions.

The Indians looked pale in the opening session as they failed to play as a cohesive unit despite enjoying territorial advantage. Things changed dramatically after the first goal.

It was the result of a fast counter-attack which saw Samir Naik break through the defence from the right flank before crossing to an unmarked Bhutia, who headed home from inside the box.

The goal made the Indians more determined as they broke through the rival defence time and again in a series of raids from both flanks. Relying on a combination of short and long passes to unsettle their rivals, the Indians were in control of the second session.

Bhutia was again in the thick of things as he placed the ball in from close after substitute Tomba Singh had done the spadework by piercing through the defence.

However, Rennedy’s brilliant effort turned out to be the best goal of the match as the ball swung viscously to beat the Bangladeshi custodian.

India could have scored one more in the 55th minute, but Naik failed to control his header from inside the box following a measured cross from Bhutia from the left flank.

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