India progressed to the final of the SAFF (South Asian Football Federation) Suzuki Cup 2018 with an enthralling 3-1 victory over Pakistan at the Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka on Wednesday evening.
After a goalless first-half of the semifinal, India emerged victorious by three goals to nil, to end Pakistan’s fairy-tale run in the tournament.
Stephen Constantine’s Indian U-23 team broke the Green team’s defence in the 49th minute after Ashique Kuruniyan delivered a low ball that was poked home by striker Manvir Singh.
Lallianzuala Chhangte’s introduction into the game in place of Nikhil Poojary yielded a second almost immediately. It was Kaith who fisted a ball away and the winger broke into a counter, finding Vinit Rai who ultimately setup Manvir who doubled the lead with his second of the night.
Manvir lost any chance of scoring a hattrick after he was stretchered off 10 minutes before time with Sumeet Passi brought on his place.
It was the Jamshedpur FC forward who got his name on the scorecard to make it 3-0 heading in an inch-perfect cross from Kuruniyan with 7 minutes left on the clock.
In the 86th minute Mohsin Ali and Lallianzuala Chhangte were given a red card, thus flaring up the age-old contest between the two nations.
India conceded their first goal of the tournament when Hassan Bashir’s long-range shot was deflected into the net in the 88th minute. Bashir is now the second highest goal-scorer for the country having scored seven international goals in the green shirt.
The defending champions managed to hold on during the final stages of the match and with the victory, booked a spot in the final to be played on Saturday, where Stephen Constantine’s men will face Maldives who defeated Nepal 3-0 in the first semi-final of the tournament.