India kickstarted the 2023 Intercontinental Cup in style, securing a comfortable victory over Mongolia at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar.

The scoring commenced early on, with Sahal Abdul Samad finding the net in the second minute, followed by Lallianzuala Chhangte doubling the lead in the 14th minute.

Ranked 101st globally, the Indian team controlled the game and eased off as they cruised to a win against the 183rd-ranked Mongolian side. Despite record-scorer Sunil Chhetri having a relatively quiet game, dropping deep to create space for wingers Udanta Singh and Chhangte to exploit the defense, the team's formation of 4-2-3-1 allowed Sahal and Anirudh Thapa to roam freely.

Goalkeeper Amrinder Singh had little to worry about, while fullbacks Nikhil Poojary and Akash Mishra consistently pushed forward, providing attacking options for India. The team dominated the Mongolian half, with Sandesh Jhingan solidifying the defense. However, Anwar Ali escaped punishment for a reckless challenge to Baljinnyam Batmunkh inside the Indian box, which was deemed fair. Despite this, Mongolia posed a minimal threat to India's goal throughout the match.

On the offensive end, Udanta had a clear-cut claim for a penalty dismissed after being tripped inside the box. As the match progressed, Udanta's influence waned, leading to his substitution around the 60-minute mark. Chhangte returned to his usual position on the right wing, resulting in an increased threat from India's right flank in the latter stages of the game.

India comfortably secured the victory, but they will aim to enhance their intensity and effectiveness in the final third as they prepare to face stronger opponents in Vanuatu (ranked 163rd) and Lebanon (the highest-ranked team in the tournament at 99th).

In the earlier match of the day, Lebanon overcame a resilient Vanuatu side with a 3-1 victory, courtesy of a late flurry of goals. As a result, the two favorites currently occupy the top spots in the tournament standings after the first round of matches.

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