Gold Cup 2019: Nepal outshine India to win 2-1
Two early goals by Nepal made it difficult for India to find their way back...
Two early goals by Nepal made it difficult for India to find their way back...

Two early goals helped Nepal beat India 2-1 in the fourth match of the 2019 Gold Cup on Monday at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneshwar. 

A quick-fire brace by Sabitra Bhandari (5', 7') put Nepal in the driver's seat. Ratanbala Devi's (73') brilliant free-kick gave India hope towards the end but the visitors' defence stood firm to prevent a comeback. 

Myanmar beat Iran 2-0 in the first match of the day and are now top of the table with six points from two matches. India and Nepal have three points each. 

Head coach Maymol Rocky named an unchanged lineup from her team's 1-0 win against Iran in the opener on Saturday. 

The match got off to a terrible start for India as Nepal struck early blows, taking full advantage of poor defending and bad goalkeeping. 

A through-ball by Hira Kumari from the halfway line set striker Sabitra Bhandari free in behind the Indian defence in the fifth minute. Nepal's number nine beat Sweety Davi for pace, got into the box and curled a shot at the goal. Goalkeeper Aditi Chauhan got her left hand to the ball but could not prevent it from rolling into the net. 

The visitors doubled their lead two minutes later. Anju Tamang failed to clear a loose ball inside the box and Manmaya Limbu pounced, taking the ball to the byline before sending it across the face of the goal. Aditi fumbled the cross at the near post, allowing Sabitra to tap the ball into the empty net. 

India's forays forward were kept in check by their opponents and were forced to resort to aerial balls into the box and set-pieces. In the 20th minute, a long free-kick from the right by Dalima Chhibber was chested down by Anju into the path of Indumatho who blazed her strike over the bar. Chhibber attempted a dipping strike at Anjila Subba's goal but flew inches over the crossbar and landed on the roof of the net.

India struggled to create chances in the first half and failed to convert whatever little they could produce in the attacking third. Jabamani Tudu's cross found Anju free in the centre of the box in the 38th minute but the forward shot wide. 

India had an opportunity to test the goalkeeper soon after the break after Anju Tamang was brought down by Hira Kumari at the edge of the box. The foul was cynical and one for the team as Indumathi's lofted ball had released Anju into space. Indumathi's free-kick bounced back off Nepal's wall. 

The hosts' best chance of the game was in the 73rd minute when Dangmei's cross from the right found Sandhya Ranganathan in the box. The Nepal goalie pulled off a brilliant one-legged save to keep out the striker's header from close-range and Sanju failed to convert the rebound. 

A foul on Dalima Chhibber at the edge of the box allowed India a way back into the game. Ratanbala Devi smashed an excellent free-kick into the top right corner of the net to pull a goal back but India could not find an equaliser. 

India's starting lineup: Aditi Chauhan (GK, C); Dalima Chhibber, Sweety Devi, Ashalata Devi, Jabamani Tudu; Sangita, Indumathi K, Ratanbala Devi; Sanju, Dangmei Grace, Anju Tamang.

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