India suffered a 4-2 defeat to Tajikistan in the opening encounter of the Intercontinental Cup at the TransStadia arena in Ahmedabad on Sunday.
A Sunil Chhetri brace saw the Blue Tigers go to half-time with a two-goal lead but the away side stormed back into the game in the second half. Goals from Tursunov, Boboev, Rahimov and Samiev gave the Persian Lions a great win.
Igor Stimac's side started the side on the front foot, scoring through Chhetri's panenka penalty after Lallianzuala Chhangte was brought down in the box. Sahal Abdul Samad was pivotal in the build-up as his lovely feet and pass to Mandar Rao Desai set up Chhangte.
The Indians were then pushed back by the young Tajikistan side, as they probed and started looking for opportunities to score. Soon enough, Barotov had a great chance to score after a mistake from debutant Gahlot but he put his shot wide of the far post. They asked questions many times of the Indian defence but couldn't score.
After failing to create a clearcut opportunity for most of the remainder of the first half, the home side doubles their lead after Rahul Bheke's lovely through ball saw Udanta run free. His cross was overhit but Chhangte touched it on to Mandar, whose cross was finished smartly by Chhetri.
The second half saw Tajikistan come out a changed outfit as they pressed higher up, and were looking to release their attacking players at any given opportunity.
Sahal's lovely pass sent Thapa clear but he couldn't get the ball out of his feet and the chance went abegging. Soon after, the away side halved the lead thanks to Komron Tursonov's finish as he slotted past Gurpreet Singh Sandhu on the second attempt.
The Blue Tigers had a chance to score immediately after but Chhetri missed from close range as his tap-in went over the bar from Udanta's lovely cross. Tajikistan then levelled the scores thanks to Boboev who lashed it home after Tursunov set him up well.
As Stimac's men tried to take the lead again, they were defied by the away team, as they held their position well and kept the Indians at bay. Rahimov then gave his team the lead as he sprinted past Adil Khan to nutmeg Gurpreet and score.
Tajikistan doubled their lead in the 74th minute, scoring through Samiev, who was set up beautifully by Ehson. He knocked the ball past the helpless Indian goalkeeper after getting the better of Adil Khan to make it 4-2 and seal the game.
This result sees Tajikistan have three points after one game, while India have zero. The next game will be played between Syria and DPR Korea on July 8th.