It was after 60 years that Mumbai hosted its first international football a few days ago, and fans of football in the city made it special. In the India versus Puerto Rico match, both sides gave their best on the field throughout the 90 minutes of intense battle. Much to the delight of the home fans, India thrashed Puerto Rico 4-1. Indian spectators were beside themselves with joy when the team headed by coach Stephen Constantine clinched a thumping victory over the higher-ranked Puerto Rico.
As much as the match was a delight to watch, what happened after the final whistle made it even more memorable. Once the match ended, spectators in the stadium gave a standing ovation to the Puerto Rican players and chanted ‘Puerto Rico’ in loud unison. The visiting team were quite taken aback by the heartwarming gesture of the Indian fans. The Puerto Rico players responded with a lap of honour.
Fans at the Andheri Sports Complex, in fact, had taken turns to cheer both India and Puerto Rico during the entire course of the match. And despite numbering as little as 7,000, they made their presence felt loud and far. Such was the response of football fans in India that even Puerto Rico's stand-in coach David Guillemat was amazed.
It was the away side that scored the first goal when Emanuel Sanchez struck a penalty in the eighth minute. Giving away an early goal fired up the men in blue who replied strongly and scored an equaliser in the seventeenth minute when Narayan Das scored off a goalpost deflection of Sunil Chhetri's free kick.
Soon after the score touched 1-1, India took control of the match, and it was goals galore as Sunil Chhetri, Jeje Lalpekhlua and Jackichand Singh scored in the 24th, 33rd and 56th minutes, respectively, guiding India to a decisive 4-1 victory over Puerto Rico.