When India conceded an early penalty, it seemed like it might be a long evening for the Indian fans in Mumbai. But then, with the flick of a switch, India turned on the style, as Stephen Constantine's men ran-out thoroughly deserving 4-1 winners in this international friendly at the Andheri Sports Complex on Saturday.
After Emanuel Sanchez scored from the penalty spot inside ten minutes, Narayan Das, Sunil Chhetri, Jeje Lalpekhlua and Jackichand Singh found the back of the net to give India an impressive win.
Puerto Rico took the lead when Jackichand gave away a penalty, bringing down the Puerto Rico right-back Elliot Velez. Sanchez stepped up and slotted the ball home past Gurpreet Singh, the captain for this match, to give the visitors the lead.
However, this was not going to be one of those "if only" matches for India, not when they had the chance to create history in the first ever match between the two teams.
It was no surprise that Chhetri had a big role to play in the opening goal – indeed he was involved in almost all of the goals. After a freekick was given just outside the box, Chhetri curled in a pearl, only to see the ball strike the post and bounce back into play. However, Narayan Das was on hand to squirt one through the forest of legs and make it 1-1 in the 17th minute.
It would keep getting better for India from there. Another freekick, this time from a much more difficult angle, saw Chhetri find the back of the net with a wonderful strike.
With a little over ten minutes to go to halftime, and it was 3-1 to India as Chhetri, masterful in this match, found a nice pass for Jeje to slot home from close range.
Puerto Rico looked done by now, and in the second half, Jackichand added the icing on the cake just before the hour to give India a 4-1 lead, and while it could have easily been a lot better, the hosts will take the win and hope to build on it as stiffer tests await.