New Delhi: Tigresses defeated Cheetahs 2-1 in their U-17 Women's Championship opener as Amisha Baxla scored and assisted another to help her team over the line in Kalyani, West Bengal on Monday.
Priya PV's Tigresses did the damage in just the first 10 minutes of the game and Bembem Devi's Cheetahs could never recover from that early blow eve as they grew into the game despite getting a goal back through Malavika P. This was the first game of the one-week tournament for both teams.
Earlier in the day, Lionesses kickstarted the tournament with a 3-0 crushing victory over the Panthers, where Priyanka Sujeesh Pottekkat shone for Alex Ambrose's side.
The tournament is aimed at helping India select players for the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup India 2020.
Tigresses were extremely quick off the blocks and that's exactly what benefitted them later as despite having a second half where they had no real control over the game, they were able to eke out a victory.
For the Cheetahs, their lack of focus in the initial minutes of the match cost them and while they were able to take control of the game later, the lack of a final pass and finishing left them without any points.
For the Tigresses, apart from Amisha, Aveka Singh had a brilliant game in the midfield. Her positional sense and her ability to find spaces was for everyone to see.
The Tigresses got to business as early as the third minute when Amisha received the ball on the right and ran up to put the ball past the keeper with a good finish.
Just three minutes later, Amisha was at work once more as he ran up on the right, having received a good through paas. Drawing two defenders towards herself, she passed the ball in the middle for Karen Estrocio, who sent the keeper the wrong way to slot the ball into the right bottom corner.
Post the intensity of the first 10 minutes, the game slowed down a bit as the Cheetahs managed to take some control and were able to keep the ball more and thwart some advances from the Tigresses.
The ball mostly remained in the midfield for the rest of the first half as both teams struggled to create clear-cut chances and went into the break with the Tigresses leading 2-0.
Cheetahs started the second half with more urgency as Malavika and Flani Costa showed pace and skills up front to create a few chances.
What did not work for the Cheetahs was the alert defence of the Tigresses and that they were being closed down well. The Tigresses lost much control of the ball in the second half but their shape at the back remained intact because of which, the Cheetahs failed to make too many inroads.
In the 67th minute, Tigresses made the mistake of an extremely poor clearance and Malavika pounced on the ball and just lobbed it towards the goal. The keeper tried to catch the ball overhead but it slipped out and rolled into the net.
Despite the lifeline, Cheetahs could not make too much of the momentum as the Tigresses held on for a victory.
After Day 1 of the tournament, both Lionesses and Tigresses have three points but the former takes the top spot in the table with a goal difference of 3 in comparison to 1 for the Tigresses.
Both the Cheetahs and Panthers have no points but Bembem's team is third courtesy a better goal difference of (-)1 compared to (-)3 for the Panthers.