Jamshedpur: Uzbekistan struck twice in quick succession to beat TFA Blue 2-0 in the JRD Tata Cup international invitational football tournament at the JRD Tata Sports Complex on Sunday.
Had it not been for two serious lapses on the part of the home team in the second half, the match would have ended goalless. The Indians had themselves to blame as the forwards failed to capitalise on the gilt-edged opportunities.
Some quick thinking on the part of the Uzbekistan frontline earned them the first goal in the 77th minute.
Muzaffar Umizakov received a high cross from the centre, dodged past defender Subhash Mondal before sending a low cross to Abbos Abdullahyev nearthe goalmouth.
He passed it to an onrushing Shakhboz Umarov, who placed it to the right of Subhashish Roy Choudhury.
The lethargy in the home defence again came to the fore as the Anzur Ismailov-Abdullahyev combination got Uzbekistan their second goal. The former ran down the left and his low cross was easily converted by Abdullahyev in the 88th minute.
TFA Blue could have converted at least five chances that came their way in the first half. Skipper Suiting Lekini, Rockus Lamare, Babin Biswas, Khentang Paite and Sumit Thapa kept forwards S. Kuttimani and Manahar Dharani busy with some accurate passes.
The home team would have fired the opening goal in the seventh minute had a Lamare right-footer from just outside the box not grazed the bar.
The Uzbekistan defence cracked under persistent pressure but poor finishing from the home team forwards failed to produce goals.
Dharani missed an easy goal when he was left unmarked on the left flank.
A long cross the right landed right in front of him but the striker made a mess of things by shooting wide.
The home team maintained the pressure for the first ten minutes of the second half but let the advantage match slip away thereafter.
The visitors picked up the tempo and began looking for openings.
The Indian midfield and frontline appeared tired which forced coach Satheevan Balan to replace Dharani and Biswas with PC Lalampuiya and Goodwin Diego Franco. But things didnít work in the home teamís favour.