The India U-17 team put on a brave display before eventually going down 0-2 to Russia in their final game of the SAFF U-17 Women's Championship campaign here on Tuesday, finishing third in the table after winning two and losing two games in the event.
India went into this game on a high, after a 9-0 demolition of Bhutan. However, they knew that they were up against it, facing the most dominant team in the tournament.
Almost from the start, Russia ensured that India didn't get much of the ball, rotating possession and controlling the play. India's defence were up to the task, but in the 10th minute, an unfortunate goalkeeping error resulted in them conceding their first goal.
Vasilisa Avlienko's long-range effort, while swerving dangerously, looked to be comfortable for Khushi Kumari. The youngster, though, misjudged the curve and ended up palming it into the net. Three minutes later, Russia were awarded a penalty after a clumsy foul in the box and Daria Kotlova converted coolly to double their lead.
India latched up their defence for the rest of the half and played on the counter, the defence often launching long balls to Shilji Shaji, Pooja and Sibani Devi in the hope of catching Russia off-guard.
At the start of the second half, the ploy almost paid off, when Arina Kadigrob and goalkeeper Uliana Obukhova made a mess of a routine save to allow Sibani to sneak in. The winger capitalised on their dallying to snatch the ball, but Obukhova was at hand to ensure she didn't run free.
From there the chances fell few and far between for the Young Tigresses, who put bodies behind the ball to ensure they didn't concede more and try and force the game at the later stages.
With a minute of regulation time left to play India had their best chance of the game. From an indirect free kick, Shilji forced Obukhova into a diving save. The rebound fell to Menaka, who played Pooja through. The youngster shot wide. It brought the curtain down on a valuable learning experience for the young team.
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