Saturday, 04 December 2021

India 3-1 win over Maldives in SAFF Championships final

India 3-1 win over Maldives in SAFF Championships final

Sunil Chhetri hit twice to lead India to a 3-1 win over hosts Team Maldives in their last league match on Wednesday to enter the South Asian Football Federation Championships final.

Sunil Chhetri scored in the sixty-second and seventy-first minutes after Manvir Singh gave India the lead in the thirty-third minute in the must-win match for India. Ali Ashfaq pulled one back for the Maldives in the forty-fourth minute from a spot-kick.

The 37-year-old Sunil Chhetri, who was playing in his 124th match, is just one goal shy of Argentine maestro Lionel Messi (80), the second-highest international goal scorer among active players behind Portugal superstar Cristiano Ronaldo with (115).

Seven-time champions India, who finished at the top of the five-team table with eight points, will face Nepal in the finals on October 16.

Nepal 1-1 draw with Bangladesh in the earlier match to finish 2nd in the round-robin league with seven points.

India defeated Nepal 1-0 in a league stage match earlier.

This match will be the 12th final emergence for India.

India dominated the match throughout, and Sunil Chhetri almost put India ahead in the lead in the twenty-seventh minute. Still, his header off a Brandon Fernandes corner struck the crossbar.

Read More: Brazil Beat Uruguay 4-1 in World Cup qualifier

Ali Ashfaq had a dangerous shot at the Indian goal in the 28th minute, but a defender blocked it.

Manvir Singh fired it past the Maldives goalkeeper at the near post to give India the lead five minutes later.

Ashfaq scored from a penalty to put the Maldives back on leveling with scores just seconds before halftime.

Indian head coach Igor Stimac brought in nippy winger Udanta Singh in the fifty-first minute in place of Brandon Fernandes.

Soon after, in the sixty-second minute, India took the lead. Manvir chested down an Apulia cross for Sunil Chhetri to blast into the back of the Maldives net.

Sunil Chhetri then scored his second goal of the day with a looping header that crashed into the opposition net in the seventy-first minute.

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