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 August 8, 2002 | 2000 IST

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India storm into LG Cup football final

India scored a facile 3-0 victory over defending champions Petrokimia, Indonesia, to storm into the final of the LG Cup football tournament in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, on Thursday.

In the final on Saturday, they will meet hosts Vietnam, who defeated Singapore by an identical margin in the other semi-final.

India, who led 1-0 at the breather, scored through Venkatesh (21st minute), Debjit Ghosh (48th) and substitute Bijen Singh (67th).

India coach Stephen Constantine expressed joy over the way his boys have impressed in the tournament.

"This has been a dream run for us... starting from our 2-2 draw with Singapore, our 3-1 win over Vietnam under-23 and now this (semi-final triumph)," an elated Constantine said.

The Indians played less defensive today and attacked from both sides, regularly feeding their strikers Baichung Bhutia and Alex Ambrose.

It was from this Bhutia-Ambrose combination that Venkatesh got the ball in the 21st minute, beat two defenders and opened the scoring for India.

After the goal, India completely dominated the procceedings for the remainder of the first half but failed to increase the lead.

The Indonesian side, which had fielded six national players, tried to attack with a renewed vigour in the second half but the Indians continued to outplay them.

Debjit Ghosh put India 2-0 ahead three minutes into the second half as the team went on the rampage looking for more goals. Substitute Bijen Singh gave India their third goal when he scored in the 67th minute to make it a comprehensive victory.

The efficient Venkatesh was given the 'Most Valuable Player' award at the end of the match.

A goodly Vietnamese crowd enjoyed the game, hoping for a feast when their team lock horns with India on Saturday.

Constantine said, "I was worried whether we would make the most of our chances, but the boys did that and the reward is a place in the final."

Indonesian coach Sansi Rachman was surprised by India's performance.

"I have not seen such a well-organised and fit team from India for a long time. I was expecting to reach the final and have a crack at Vietnam again."

"If the Indians play like this in the final, it will be anybody's game," he said as the Indonesian team lined up to collect the bronze medal and a cheque of $5000. The other losing semi-finalist - Singapore - too got the bronze and a $5000 cheque.

The Complete Coverage

Earlier reports:
India looking to take Petrokimia in stride
India romp into semis of LG Cup
India will go all out for a win
India's prospects brighten after Vietnam lose
India under-23 held by Singapore in LG Cup

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