The 30,000-strong crowd at the Khuman Lampak Stadium in Imphal, the capital city of Manipur, were in for a treat as India defeated Kyrgyzstan 2-0 on Tuesday to be crowned champions of the Hero Tri-Nation Tournament.
Hosts India thus finished with an all-win record, having beaten Myanmar 1-0 in their first game.
With the loud support of the home fans, India played impressively against the higher-ranked Kyrgyz team. Stimac made six changes from the team that started against Myanmar, but it didn’t affect the side’s rhythm.
The opening goal came not from India’s forward-line, but from centre-back Sandesh Jhingan, who found the target in the 34th minute. As Brandon Fernandes put the ball in front of the rival goalmouth from a free-kick, Jhingan pounced on it to score.
A draw would have been enough for India to win the tournament, but coach Igor Stimac did not want to leave anything to chance and instead instructed his boys to go for goals. India launched a series of raids on the opposition goal whenever they had the opportunity.
In the 84th minute, the Kyrgyzstan defence crumbled under pressure as Naorem Mahesh Singh was brought down inside the penalty box. India were awarded a spot-kick and captain Sunil Chhetri stepped up to score his 85th international goal. This was India's fifth straight win on home turf.