The skipper scored his first triple for the national team in eight years as they laid down an early marker a tournament hosts.
In what could be described as a wonderful night for the Indian football enthusiasts, India overcame Chinese Taipei in the inaugural match of the Intercontinental Cup. The fixture at the Mumbai Football Arena saw the Blue Tigers scoring five goals past the Mulans, as skipper Sunil Chhetri scored a hat-trick while Udanta Singh and Pronay Halder also bagged one each.
Watch: Stephen Constantine and Sunil Chhetri talk in the post match press conference
Let’s take a look at how both the sides performed.
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu- 6.0
Gurpreet looked completely comfortable in goal as he seemed to have made the goalkeeper’s place rightfully his for the next few years. He was rarely forced to make a save, but when he was he completed the task with relative ease.
Subhashish Bose- 8.5
Being a relative newcomer in the squad, it did not faze him at all and Bose stood up to the meagre challenge provided by Chinese Taiepei winger Wang. He looked like a stable option on the left, which forced youngster Jerry Larinzuala to the bench.
Anas Edathodika- 7.0
He was a rock at the back and in his partnership with Sandesh Jhingan formed an unbreakable wall in front of goal. He was instrumental in maintaining the line of defence when the opposition tried to stretch the team wide.
Sandesh Jhingan- 7.0
Sandesh has shaken off the blues from his outings with Kerala Blasters in the ISL and has come back with great vigour and showed why he is the best at what he does for India. His stability at the back meant that he let the attack toy with the visitors.
Pritam Kotal- 7.0
Pritam did well to hold down the fort against a young opposition. His only qualm would have been not rushing forward much to provide India with more width. Overall, Kotal did well, considering his form had dipped massively for Delhi Dynamos.
Anirudh Thapa- 8/0
His trickery and guile in the midfield was the lost piece of the puzzle that India had been looking for. Thapa surely heralds a change from a stagnant midfield to one that is versatile, dynamic and without a doubt one that pierces defences.
The ball he provided for Chhetri to score in the 34th minute was something out of a playmaker’s trick-book.
Pronay Halder- 8.5
This version of Pronay was missing for a good while. He captivated one and all with an amazing display in the middle of the park. If he keeps up his performances, he is exactly what India will need in the AFC Asian Cup when they face superior midfields.
Holicharan Narzary- 6.5
Narzary did go forward menacingly, but was subdued to quite a large extent by an excellent performance by Ting Yang Chi. Debutant Ashique Kuruniyan took his place just after halftime.
Udanta Singh- 9.0
India’s “Flash,” as he is nicknamed, proved his worth once again on Friday night. Outrunning Chinese Taipei defenders and also creating a brilliant chance for Captain Fantastic to score his opening goal was simply majestic. He capped off his blazing performance with a excellent solo goal that literally came out of nowhere.
Jeje Lalpekhlua- 8.5
Jeje looked like a character from a video game whose skills and powers were raised to a 100. He toyed with the Taipei defence as though they were from an amateur team and made a spectacular performance more special by his two assists for Captain Fantastic.
Sunil Chhetri- 9.0
Chhetri knows only one thing the moment he takes the pitch and that is to score goals. The hat-trick on his 99th cap for India is nothing short of a wondrous performance by the man who captured the hearts of the Blue Pilgrims and sent home the message that the Asian Cup is going to be nothing but spectacular for India.
Ashique Kuruniyan- 7.0
Kuruniyan had a good debut and became the focal point of the attack. He did well to hold the shape of the attacking forwards and also fall back in defence when there was a need for it. Nonetheless, it could be said that he had an impressive debut.
Rowlin Borges- 6.0
Borges was sent on primarily to calm the midfield down and he did that with relative ease. He had nothing much to do and did the due diligence of a defensive midfielder.
Salam Ranjan Singh- 7.0
The youngster did a fantastic job and put on a textbook performance having replaced Anas Edathodika at the heart of the defence. He surely demonstratied to manager Stephen Constantine as to why he should start more games.
Mohammed Rafique- NA
Rafique came on to close out the game and he did so without adding much flair.
Performed well enough and did a much better job as compared to his previous game against the Kyrgyz Republic. He has been touted as one for the future, but is yet to reach a convincing level.
Alan Deory- N/A
Came on to close out the game for the Indian team who had already shut shop by then.
Wen-Chieh Pan- 4.0
It was a night to forget for the goalkeeper who looked harried by the Indian attackers and could do nothing but watch the ball go past him on multiple occasions.
Chien-Ming Wang 4.0
Wang strode forward well to rattle Kottal. but had very few chances to do so. One could feel nothing but sorry for the young full-back.
Ting-Yang Chen 4.0
Ting-Yang did cause a few problems for India at the back and got carded early on in the match. But, was no competition for the duo of Jeje Lalpekhlua and Chhetri.
Tzu-Kuei Hung 3.5
Hung tried to do the best he could. But, he should not be judged on his performance against a superior Indian side and especially when he had little support from his teammates tracking back.
Wei-Chuan Chen 2.0
Virtually disappeared from the game as India raked in more and more goals. Tried to do his bit, but it was just not enough to stop India in their tracks.
William Donkin 5.0
William was the silver lining in an abysmal Chinese Taipei team. He tried to go forward and was the only one who troubled the Indian custodian. Deserves a mention for the same.
Chang Lun Lin 4.0
Was virtually non-existent in the match from the outset. His performance at the heart of the midfield did not provide a spine, which put India on the front foot.
Chao-An Chin 3.5
Did well to try and surge forward, but was restricted well by Halder. Delivered a poor performance on the wings.
YI Wei Chen 3.0
Was supposed to play the role of a #10 as the captain, but was heartbroken as it could be seen that his performance in the middle of the park was proving pointless.
En-Le Chu 4.0
It was a nightmarish evening for the forward. He was no match for the Indian centre-backs. He could not create much problems for the duo of Jhingan-Edathodika.
Ruei Wang 2.0
Would have hoped for a better outing, but could do nothing in a crumbling team.
Ching Hsuan Chang 2.0
Played till his legs gave way, but made a very tiny contribution to a team that had succumbed before he even came on.