2017 U17 World Cup, Group Stage
  • Jeakson Thounaojam (82')
  • Juan Peñaloza (49', 83')

Gone in 60 seconds: India's ecstasy turns despair

In the 82nd minute of the game, Jeakson Singh leaped off the turf and into Indian sporting history. Rearing his tall frame, he rose past the Colombian defence to meet a corner and sent the ball rocketing into the net for India's first ever goal at a FIFA World Cup.

Spectators, tens of thousands strong, including Jeakson's parents launched themselves off their seats at New Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. Indian Coach Louis Matos threw his arms out in the air. The team congealed into a huddle, if only for a second or two. Jeakson himself looked skyward and then jogged back to his place in the defense.

The moment of glory would be fleeting, though. In the cruelest of ironies, Colombia countered almost immediately and Gustavo Carvajal found Juan Penaloza free in the box to slide home and score the decisive second goal for his team. Penaloza had already netted in the 49th minute and his second sealed the match 2-1 for Colombia.

Nonetheless, a charged up India produced one of their finest performances before going down in front of disappointed but proud group of spectators.

The move to make four changes by coach Luis Norton de Matos proved to be a wise one as the taller Indian players ensured they were equal to the task when it came to the aerial battle against the Colombians.

It was a very different India that turned up after the 0 -3 loss to USA three nights ago. They were on the ball from the start and even though the Colombians had more of possession, India managed to make their presence felt.

There was heightened activity in the Colombian box, with Ninthoinganba Meetei initiating surging runs down the right flank. To the surprise, and delight, of the sizeable crowd at the stadium, India were on top of Colombia during the early exchanges.

But, to the disappointment of the thousands occupying the stands, Abhijeet Sarkar, having found a clear view of the goal, shot over in the 16th minute.

India came close again towards the end of the first half, but Rahul Kanoly's volley thudded against the post. With both teams failing to break the deadlock, India went into the breather with their heads held high, but bemoaning their luck.

Penaloza eventually put Colombia ahead in the 51st minute. The midfielder ran to the edge of the box and kept the Indian defenders guessing with his deft footwork, before unleashing a left-footed strike to the bottom left corner of Dheeraj Singh's post.

The assist was made by captain Thomas Gutierrez, and as the ball found the back of the net, the Colombian team ran towards their dugout and celebrated. They were relieved to have opened their account after suffering a reverse against Ghana in the opening encounter.

Dheeraj, on this occasion, had no chance even though he had another brilliant night under the bar pulling off a couple of fine saves, showing nice anticipation.

Down by a goal in this crucial encounter, India looked eager to respond as Meetei delivered a cross from the right flank, only to find Rahul Kanoly's shot wide off the target. India eventually did get their equalizer, but the joy would last less than a minute, as Colombia attacked straight from kick-off and snatched the winner.