New Delhi [India], March 27 (ANI): Belarus scored three in the second half to beat India 3-0 in an international friendly played in Manama on Saturday.
Goals from Bykau Artsem, Andrei Salav and Hramyka Varely made the difference between the two teams. This was India's first international match against a UEFA side since they last played Azerbaijan in 2012.
Head Coach Igor Stimac made seven changes to the starting line-up which played against Bahrain in the last international friendly three days back. The Blue Tigers were also hit by injuries to Liston Colaco and Jeakson Singh, and in addition, Rahul Bheke was not available as he had flown back to join his club's preparation for the forthcoming AFC Champions League matches.
The first shot came from Roshan Singh when he received it in the opposition half but his effort went wide.
Belarus had their first try in the 7th minute when they earned a free kick outside the Indian 18-yard box. But even as Siadzko Pavel aimed at the bottom corner, goalkeeper and captain Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, playing his 50th international match stooped down to gather it with ease.
Four minutes later, Anirudh Thapa played an aerial through ball to Manvir Singh but the rival defence recovered faster not allowing Manvir to have a shy at the goal.
With India defending in numbers, Belarus did enjoy more of the possession but struggled in their search to find the gaps as the Blue Tigers maintained their shape, and tried to stay compact.
In the 39th minute, Manvir was played through behind the Belarus defence. He tried to speed past his marker and even entered the rival box, but the defence managed to snatch it to keep Manvir at bay.
Thereafter, Belarus earned a corner in the 41st minute, and a free-kick down the right flank in the 45th minute. But both the attempts didn't create any danger for the Blue Tigers as both teams headed to the interval locked goalless.
Changing over, Stimac made his first substitution as Yasir Mohammad came in place of Seriton Fernandes. In the very first minute, Belarus made an inroad down the left -- Uladzislau passed to Shauchenka Hleb but an agile Gurpreet was equal to the task.
Two minutes later, Belarus surged into the lead - a long ball from the midfield was followed up by Bykau Artsem as he volleyed it in. The next substitution came up in the 60th minute - Aniket Jadhav replacing VP Suhair.
Belarus earned a free-kick down the left flank in the 65th minute when Roshan fouled Ebonh Maks, and the resultant free-kick, curled in, missed everyone and sailed for a goal kick.
The next minute Belarus doubled their lead. Roshan lost the ball in the midfield, and Maks ran down the middle and set it up on the right for Andrei Salavi to tap it in.
Sandesh Jhingan came to India's rescue in the 75th minute intercepting in time, thus disallowing Salavi to pull the trigger. The following corner didn't yield anything for Belarus. Sandesh was in fact in the thick of action executing a couple more crucial tackles as the match entered the last half.
Stimac brought in his third substitution - Chinglensana Singh coming in place of Roshan.
In the 83rd minute, Akash Mishra passed it to Anirudh Thapa, who was quick to cross it into the box. But it stayed just beyond Manvir.
The final goal came at the fag end of the match - Yablonski Yauhen playing it behind the defence for Hramyka Varely to react faster than all, and send it past Gurpreet.
INDIA: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (captain); Seriton Fernandes (Yasir Mohammad - 46th), Anwar Ali, Sandesh Jhingan, Akash Mishra, Hormipam Ruivah (Pritam Kotal - 90th), Anirudh Thapa, VP Suhair (Aniket Jadhav - 60th), Brandon Fernandes (Danish Farooq - 90th), Roshan Singh (Chinglensana Singh 76'), Manvir Singh. (ANI)