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Imphal: Anirudh Thapa guided India to a tidy 1-0 win over Myanmar in the opening match of the Hero Tri-Nation International football tournament, played at the Khuman Lampak Stadium here on Wednesday.

Given India’s dominance over their rivals for most of the outing, the scoreline would have been bigger, but missed chances combined with the luck factor kept the victory margin at the bare minimum.

Opening match of the Hero Tri-Nation International football tournament, played at the Khuman Lampak Stadium in Imphal

A partisan crowd filled up the stands long before the match could start as the Blue Tigers put on a show that genuinely delighted the spectators of Imphal, the city organising its first-ever senior men’s international tie.

With both teams eyeing to get the upper hand in the first half, Thapa eventually managed to break the deadlock during injury time, when he latched on to a stray rebound inside the box and smashed it past the keeper from close range, to help India head into the breather with a 1-0 advantage.

Myanmar may have been somewhat shell-shocked by the sheer number of supporters for India, but they did look to use the wings on the counter. However, local boy Jeakson Singh, playing a holding role, stood up to his task, nipping the attacks in the bud.

Anirudh Thapa guides India to win the match over Myanmar

India head coach Igor Stimac decided to give more reason for the Imphal crowd to cheer, as he brought on Suresh Wangjam instead of Mohammad Yasir in the second half. Soon after, local boy Mahesh Singh got his debut as he and Manvir Singh replaced Bipin Singh and Chhangte.

India thought they had added another goal to their tally with a little over a quarter of an hour of regulation time left when skipper Sunil Chhetri poked in a Thapa cross, but he was flagged offside.

The India captain had a crack at the rival goal just minutes later, but it was saved by the opposition keeper this time.

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As the clock wore down, Ritwik Das was given his debut, as Das and Roshan Singh replaced Akash Mishra and Thapa. Seconds before the final whistle, the Myanmar goal had a close shave when Suresh’s shot was saved by the custodian.

Also Read | Football-crazy Manipur gets ready to host Indian team for first time

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