Captain Sunil Chhetri scored his 87th international goal as India won the Intercontinental Cup with a 2-0 victory over Lebanon in the final at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Sunday.
Lallianzuala Chhangte struck the evening’s other goal to cap an impressive display.
India had won the inaugural edition in 2018.
In the last leg of his career, the 38-year-old Chhetri found the back of the net in the 46th minute with a smart finish.
Buoyed by the lead and backed by a near-capacity crowd, India consolidated their position when Chhangte, the provider of the first goal, found the target in the 66th minute, leaving their opponents stunned.
In hot and humid conditions, both the teams had their fair share of chances in the first half but could not make use of them. India again seemed to be lacking in ideas in the opponent’s final third.
“In the first half the team was not up to the mark. At half time I blasted them and the team reacted well in the second half. It was the best Indian 45 minutes in the last five decades,” coach Igor Stimac was euphoric after the match.
A minute after the restart, a charging Chhangte surged into the box and cut it back for Chhetri, who calmly tapped the ball in past the Lebanese goalkeeper Ali Sabeh from close for the opener.
The goal was a result of an excellent build-up. Nikhil Poojary on the right managed to slip in the ball through little space to Chhangte who then laid it for his skipper.
Their tails up after the opener, the Indians looked to press home the advantage and they were rewarded with a second goal through Chhangte.
Having received a ball from Chhetri, substitute Naorem Mahesh Singh attempted to put it past the Lebanese custodian, who saved it but could not keep the ball with him. Off the rebound, Chhangte converted.
Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik, who handed over the winner's trophy to Chhetri, announced an award of Rs 1 crore for the Indian team.