Kirill Kosarev struck thrice (50′,73′,82′) to hand the India U-19 National Team a 0-3 loss to hosts Russia in their opening match of the XXXI Granatkin Memorial Tournament at the Petrovsky Stadium in St. Petersburg tonight, June 4. In the other match of Group A, Bulgaria shared the spoils with Moldova.
Russia, who enjoyed the lion’s share of possession throughout, got an early opportunity to open the scoring in the 12th minute but, Akash Mishra came out with a fine goalline save to deny Denis Faizullin. Three minutes later, Jitendra blocked Maksim Danilin’s effort from outside the box.
Although the hosts were attacking in numbers, the Indian defenders, especially, the central defender duo – Jitendra Singh and Muhammed Rafi, showed more composure and maturity to soak in the pressures until the first half ended.
In the 36th minute, Ricky Shabong made a terrific counter-attacking move from the heart of the midfield but unfortunately, he ended up slipping at the edge of the Russian box to squander the opportunity.
After the resumption, the Russians who wore their classic white jersey tonight took only five minutes to find the target. Andrey Mazurin breezed past Shabas Ahammed to put it through to Kosarev who did no mistake hitting the target.
The prolific forward doubled the lead in the 73rd minute when he exploited the gap between Jitendra and goalkeeper Prabhsukhan Gill to roll it from a handshaking distance.
Nine minutes later, Kirill Kravtsov and the hattrick hero Kosarev combined once again to take the match away from the Indian boys.
India will take on Moldova in their second match of the tournament at the same venue two days later on Thursday, June 6. Kick-off is scheduled at 2:30pm IST.
INDIA U-19: Prabhsukhan Gill [C] – Shabas Ahammed (53′ Robin Yadav), Jitendra Singh, Muhammed Rafi (88′ Sumit Rathi), Akash Mishra – Ricky Shabong, Jeakson Singh (88′ Sailo Lalchhanhima), Ninthoi Meetei, Givson Singh, Sanjeev Stalin (61′ Vikram Partap Singh) – Rohit Danu (61′ Harmanpreet Singh)