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POST TIME: 5 September, 2018 00:00 00 AM
Pakistan down Nepal in opener
Ali strikes match winner in final minute
Sports Reporter

Pakistan down Nepal in opener

A Pakistani forward (in white) tries to overcome the hurdle laid by a Nepalese defender during the opening match of SAFF Suzuki Cup Championship at Bangabandhu National Stadium in the capital yesterday. BFF Photo

Pakistan got off to a dramatic start in the SAFF Suzuki Cup Football Championship campaign with a dramatic win by 2-1 after defeating Nepal with an eleventh hour strike from Muhammed Ali yesterday at the Bangabandhu National Stadium.

Pakistan, who yet to taste the championship or even the second position in the topflight of the regional football, made another winning start at the Bangabandhu National Stadium, when at this venue they defeated India in 2003.

It was a very slow starter when both sides took time to get the rhythm and Pakistan looked a bit in defensive attitude and Nepal trying to build up the game from their area but due to wrong distributions did nothing noteworthy up to 20 minutes since the kick- off.

However, Pakistan could taste the Nepal goalkeeper on 22nd minute when a Saddam Hossain left side cross found two Pakistani forwards inside the area but none of them failed to kick the ball sidestepping a host of defenders.

Pakistan crafted the real scoring chance on 35th minute and took the lead with Hassan Naweed Bashir notched a penalty kick.

It was a floating right side cross inside the Nepal danger area found Muhammed Reaz but Nepalese captain Biraj Maharjan made a hard tackle to him (Reaz) and Jordanian referee was very closer to the incident and directed it for a penalty when Hassan Naweed Bashir blasted the spot kick giving no chance to Nepalese goalkeeper Kiran Kumar Limbu (1-0).

Nepal could have the equalizer just five minute later from a Bimal Gharti Magar’s corner but a close range header of Suman Aryal on a back-heel from Anjan superbly saved by Pakistan keeper on 40th.

Besides a goal from penalty for Pakistan from a counter move, the first half was almost a dull when Nepal were a bit better in control but never truly stretching Pakistan defense, apart from some occasional flickers from right side.  

The second half was a tale of a huge excitement when Nepal playing with full control and a lovely cool-header finish of Bimal Gharti Magar levelled the margin on 82nd minute and Pakistan struck an eleventh hour goal to snatched the victory.

Nepal, who have been struggling much right from the kick off the second half after trailing by 0-1, came to success to bring the equalizer when from a tremendous pressure Bimal kept his cool to send his gentle left foot volley into the left top corner of the net (1-1) and powerful attempts from Sunil Bal and Sujal Shrestha also produced two more opportunities to take lead but Pakistan custodian was very much alert under the bar to deny the efforts.

But Pakistan snatched the victory against the run of the game from a counter attacks when just before a minute of the final whistle, a left side cross from Muhammed Adil found unmarked Saadullah and Muhammed Ali very closer to the post when the later did not miss to slam his header home (2-1).