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India beat Afghanistan to lift SAFF Cup

Last updated on: December 11, 2011 21:28 IST

India scored four goals in the last 20 minutes, as a controversial penalty triggered a 4-0 rout of Afghanistan in an ill-tempered final of the SAFF Championship in New Delhi on Sunday.

The victory enabled India win the title for the sixth time.

Sunil Chhetri put defending champions India ahead when he converted from the spot in the 71st minute in controversial circumstances.

The other three goals were scored by Clifford Miranda (79th), Jeje Lalpekhula (80th) and Sushil Singh (injury time) after Afghanistan were reduced to 10 men following marching orders by the referee on Afghanistan goalkeeper Hameedullah Yousefzari.

The whole drama started as soon as referee Sukhbir Singh from Singapore awarded a penalty after Jeje was brought down by Afghanistan central defender Faisal Safa.

The decision was questionable, but Afghanistan goalkeeper Hameedullah Yousefzari took things in his hands by pushing the referee.

India crwoned SAFF championsThe result was a red card, which forced the visitors to play with 10 men for the last 20 minutes at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium, which witnessed a turnout of about 5000 spectators, the highest in the tournament.

Afghanistan, who were playing in their maiden final, lost their bearings once their goalkeeper was sent off and India capitalised the advantage to the full.

Afghan coach, Yousef Kargar, was in a quandary as he had to sacrifice a regular player to accommodate his reserve goalkeeper. He brought in reserve goalkeeper Bashir Ahmad at the expense of winger Ghulam Hoddein.

Chhetri, whose first spot-kick was disallowed because of intrusion by Nirmal Chhetri, ensured that he was on target after he was asked by retake the penalty.

The strike from the spot and the red card disturbed Afghanistan's momentum and Clifford Miranda scored after receiving a Chhetri through pass eight minutes later. The Dempo winger beat a defender before hitting the target.

Jeje then made it 3-0 when he slammed in after receiving an assist from Chhetri.

Substitute Sushil Singh, who came in for Chhetri, rounded off the tally scoring just before the final whistle.

Chhetri finished the tournament with seven goals, the most by any player in this edition of the regional tournament. He was also adjudged player of the match and tournament.

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