India struck twice in the first half to register a 2-1 win over a fighting Myanmar in the first leg of the FIFA Pre-Olympic Qualifier preliminary round encounter in Pune on Wednesday.
India scored through striker Jeje Lalpekhula (24th minute) and Fela (40th) minute, after Pyaye Phyo Oo raised hopes for the visitors with 34th minute strike at the Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex.
India began with a bang, and even found the net with their first attack in the opening minute.
A thrown-in by defender Raju Gaekwad from the right went all the way to Jeje at the second post, bounced off his chest found the net. However, Raju's throw was fouled by the linesman and goal was disallowed.
Eight minutes later, India midfielder Jewel Raja Sheikh sent in a cross from the right, which Nirmal Chettri nodded well but goalkeeper Kyaw Zin Htet dived to save.
The Myanmar build-ups were slow and it took them 15 minutes to take their first crack on goal, through midfielder Yan Aung Kyaw, who was just wide off target.
Nine minutes later, India's persistence paid off as Jeje scored from an indirect free-kick, taken by Lalrindika Ralte, who was brought down by Pyaye Phyo Oo 30-yards out.
Ralte delayed in taking the free-kick after the anxious Myanmar wall closed in. But, already committed with his approach, he had his deft
chip travel to unmarked Jeje, on the right, who made no mistake in finding the roof of the net.
Myanmar pressed hard in search of an equaliser. It was against the run of play that David Htan, running into free space on the right, whipped in a cross for the fast running Mai Aih Naing to capatalise on the mix up between 'keeper Gurpreet Sandhu and Nirmal Chettri. As a result, Mai Aih Naing gained possession and placed home with ease.
Five minutes before the breather India survived a close call. Kyi Lin's long try had India's 'keeper blocked but in doing so the ball found an unmarked Mai Aih Naing gain possession. However, a hasty try was all Naing managed.
The resultant goal-kick that India earned translated into a goal. Jeje flicked Sandhu's goal kick on to fellow-striker Malswam Fela on the left, who, after moving a few yards, finished with a fantastic first timer from the edge of the box to the second post.
Changing ends, India played defensively as Myanmar did well to press for the equalizer. However, the hosts did well to hold out.
India had a couple of close chances with Jeje failing to touch the ball from close and Myanmar's Kyi Lin attempting from close.
Two yellow cards were flashed during the match in the first half. India's Nirmal Chettri got the first while Yan Aung Kyaw (Myanmar) got the other.
India made three changes in the second half, with defender Lal Rozamma, medio Subodh Kumar and striker Jagtar Singh replacing N Mohanraj, Jibon Singh and Fela respectively.
India now travel to Myanmar to play the return leg on March 9.