Well begun comes undone
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Playing their first international match at home after the Nehru Cup, India went down 2-4 to Palestine in a friendly at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. Clifford Miranda and Syed Rahim Nabi scored for India in the 17 th and the 39th minute respectively while for Palestine, Ashraf Alfawaghra scored a hat-trick and Husam Abusalah the other.
It was a tale of two halves for India, who were by far the better side in the first half and went into the interval enjoying a 2-1 lead. But Palestine scored twice in three minutes after resumption, and never allowed India a way back into the match.
Cheered on by almost 40,000 spectators, India began brightly, with the interchanges between the front two of Alwyn George and skipper Sunil Chhetri rattling a strong Palestine side that fielded nine players who did duty for them in the West Asia Cup in December. Playing in only his second international match, Alwyn looked mature beyond his age. The U-22 India player, presently playing for Pailan Arrows, kept finding space away from his markers as India built their moves around him, with plenty of short passing and interchanging.
India surged into the lead in the 17th minute. Alwyn snaked in between a couple of rival defenders and shot left-footed. The effort was palmed away by goalkeeper Tawfiq Abuhammad but Clifford Miranda blasted in the rebound. But the lead lasted only 13 minutes, and against the run of play, Ashraf Alfawaghra volleyed in an Abdulhamid Abuhabib centre. Nabi restored India's lead within nine minutes, when he leaped to head in Mehtab Hossain's corner. India went into the interval with a 2-1 lead. Before kick-off, the left back had received the AIFF Player of the Year Award, voted for by all the coaches of the I-League teams.
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