New Delhi: Defending champions India toyed with Bhutan, beating them 5-0 with a brace each from striker Sunil Chettri and midfielder Clifford Miranda in their second Group A match of the SAFF Cup football tournament at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Monday.
India could have won by a huge margin but had three goals, all from Syed Rahim Nabi, within 27 minutes disallowed due to off-side. When sense finally prevailed, Nabi gave India the lead in the 30th minute, heading in a perfect corner-kick from Miranda.
Miranda, who missed sitters during India's hard-fought 1-1 draw with Afghanistan, hit back at his critics with a dominating performance against the lowest ranked team in the tournament. The Dempo mid-fielder struck in the 44th and the 58th minutes, besides assisting Nabi and Sunil Chettri (69th, 84th) in adding up to the tally.
India were in a must-win situation in the match and coach Savio Medeira made two changes to the starting line-up with Sameer Naik and Steven Dias making way for Nirmal Chettri and Anthony Pereira.
The hosts completely dominated the match, but it was hard to impress Indians' newly appointed technical director Robert Bann, who was earlier employed with the Socceroos in a similar position.
The 198th ranked Bhutan, comprising mostly under-19 players, suffered a 0-3 thrashing in their opening game against Sri Lanka and Monday night they had a similar fate in store.
India were on the attacking mode right from the word go and in the eighth minute Chettri's header missed the mark off Miranda's header.
India made the optimum use of the flanks and Nabi flourished in his new role on the left. The East Bengal player shifted gears cleverly and was on target thrice within a gap of 11 minutes but all his efforts were wasted as he was found off-side.
India finally scored in the 30th minute as Nabi's well-timed header went past Bhutanese goalkeeper Mon Bhattrai off Miranda's flag-kick.
Miranda doubled the lead in the 44th minute after being set up by a pinpoint pass from Chettri and slotted it past the goalkeeper as India went into the break with a 2-0 lead.
Chettri came close to score his first goal within two minutes after start but he couldn't connect timely to Miranda's cross. Miranda got his second goal in the 58th minute with a spectacular right-footer from Chettri's pass.
Chettri finally found the target in the 69th minute as he latched on to a Miranda cross from the left and side-footed into the net. The Mohun Bagan striker completed his brace six minutes from the final whistle as he dribbled past three defender and shot past the Bhutan goalkeeper.
Bhutan: Mon Bdr Bhattrai; Sanjay Khandu, Nawang Dendup, Sonam Tenzin (Karma Tshering, 71), Nim Sangay (Yeshi Samdrup, 61); Pema Rinchen, Thinley Dorji, Man Bahadur Gurung, Tshering Droji; Checho Gyeltshen, Jigme Tshering Dorjee
India: Karanjit Singh; Mahesh Gawli, Nirmal Chettri, Gouramangi Singh, Rocus Lamare; Anthony Pereira, Climax Lawrence (Jewel Raja Sheikh, 65), Clifford Miranda (Lalrindika Ralte, 76), Syed Nabi, Sunil Chhetri, Jeje Lalpelua (Joaquim Abranches, 62)
Referee: Sukhbir Singh (Malaysia)