POST TIME: 13 September, 2018 00:00 00 AM
SAFF Suzuki Cup Final
India beat Pakistan 3-1 to set final with Maldives
Sports Reporter

India beat Pakistan 3-1 to set final with Maldives

India has booked the final spot in the SAFF Suzuki Cup Football Championship after edging past their arch rivals Pakistan by 3-1 yesterday to set final with Maldives.

India, seven times champions out of previous 11 editions of SAFF football, earned the deserving win in the day’s second semis. The final will be held on September 15 and India is set to face Maldives in that thrilling match.

At the outset the match moved cautiously with both sides looked a bit tensed. It took time to settle but controlling the ball for possession was difficult on the rain-soaked slippery ground. So, the players of both the team often lost control over the ball.   

However, both sides gradually appeared to cope with the situations and India were ahead to enjoy the better possessions. The team also created opportunities though Pakistan went closer to make an early breakthrough. It was just sixth minute going of opening 45 minutes. A long throw-in of Mohammed Reaz found Hassan Basher inside the area but his header just missed the side post.

India sharply hit back right after six minutes. A strong effort of Nikhil Chandra from inside the box was thwarted by Pakistani goalkeeper Yousaf Ijaz Butt.

India could have taken the lead on 38th minute through Manvir Singh. But the prolific striker instead of reaching the ball came from counterattack. He rushed into the box but his left footer did not find mark as the ball went out missing the side post again.

The game bowed towards India on the 48th minute. With a hard worker strike, Manvir opened the account. Manvir, the potential best striker in the competition, made the breakthrough followed an Ashique chipping into the box made an exciting finish.

This time, from a counterattack down the left, Ashique edged past his marker with a good sprint before to set the cross for Manvir Singh, who simply proved his class to shot past the goalkeeper beating the defenders (1-0).

Rest of the story is about the achievements of India, who played with full dominance and added two more goals. But Pakistan had some solace with reducing one.

India doubled the advantage on 69th minute when Manvir made another good finish. Manvir Singh, who was a real threat to Pakistan defenders, knew the right position to wait for the ball.

This time he played super exchanges with Faruk Haji Kasam and after receiving the cross beat the goalkeeper from inside the box (2-0).

India kept up their momentum and almost squeezed the Pakistani defence and extended the tally to seal the victory on 84th minute.

It was also a beautiful run from Ashique when the midfielder again ran faster his markers down the left and floated superb cross inside the danger area and the substitute Sumeet Passi slammed home his header (3-0).

Pakistan had the consolation goal when Hassan Naweed Basshir beat Indian goalkeeper with an ordinary low shot from outside the box (1-3).