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SAFF Cup: India thrash Nepal, march into semis

Last updated on: December 27, 2015 21:35 IST

Lallianzuala Chhangte

IMAGE: India’s Sunil Chhetri lifts Lallianzuala Chhangte. Photograph: AIFF Media

The Indian football team registered a 100 per cent win record in the group stages of the SAFF Cup. India thrashed Nepal 4-1 at the Trivandrum International Stadium, in Kerala, on Sunday, to finish on top of Group A and seal a place in the semi-finals.

Coming on the back of a convincing 2-0 win over Sri Lanka, the Indian contingent ran out eventual winners against Nepal, courtesy strikes from Rowlin Borges (18th), Sunil Chhetri (76th) and two exquisite Lallianzuala Chhangte goals in the 81st and 89th minute respectively.  Chhangte became the youngest goal scorer for India.

However, it was India’s opponents Nepal who took the lead -- as early as the 3rd minute to test the spirit and commitment of Stephen Constantine’s boys. The Indian contingent however had other plans as their spirits were seldom deterred by the early Nepali goal.

India equalized their deficit as Borges scored his first International goal, blasting his chance into the top corner from a free-kick to make the score-line 1-1.

The half-time score line read 1-1.

Lallianzuala Chhangte

IMAGE: Lallianzuala Chhangte, centre, scored two goals. Photograph: AIFF Media

Changing over Constantine made his first change of the match as he introduced 18-year-old Chhangte for Sanju Pradhan.

In the 67th minute of the match, Sunil Chhetri cleverly toe-poked the ball home after an uncanny clearance from the Nepali defence line to give India a solitary goal lead as the score-line read 2-1.

In the 81st minute India’s third came. And the way it did was almost cinematic. Chhangte cut inside from the right flank, feinted past a Nepali defender and unleashed a venomous curling shot onto goal which found the light of day, making it his first International goal for India as the score-line read 3-1.

Two minutes later, Borges and Chhangte combined for India’s fourth and the latter’s second as Borges released a well-timed ball for Chhangte, only for the 18 year old to head home as the scoreline read 4-1.

The full-time scoreline also read the same as India progressed into the semi-finals of the tournament and will face either Afghanistan or Maldives on New Year’s eve at the Trivandrum International stadium.