SAFF Championship 2021: Sunil Chhetri’s late strike against Nepal gives India its first victory in the SAFF Championship 2021
India played table-toppers Nepal in their third match of the SAFF Championship 2021 in Male today. It was a must-win game of sorts for India as they couldn’t have afforded to lose today. A draw would also have made qualifications for the finals very difficult. A win, on the other hand, wouldn’t have guaranteed qualification to the finals.
The match started with India having more of the ball and trying to break down the Nepalese defense. However, India failed to create any good chances in the first half apart from one instance when Pritam Kotal’s ball nearly found Chhetri inside the box. It was the best chance of the first half. However, the Indian skipper failed to connect with the ball with just an open net in front of him. The scoreboard at halftime read 0-0.
The second half started with Nepal making changes to their lineup. Anjan Bista came on in place of Manish Dangi.
Kiran Kumar Limbu, the Nepal goalkeeper, made an excellent save in the 58th minute to deny Manvir Singh a goal from handshaking distance.
India bought on Udanta Singh and Anirudh Thapa in place of Manvir Singh and Suresh Singh Wangjam in the 59th minute.
India created a few chances, but the players missed those chances, and Nepal kept their defensive shape well.
India introduced Liston Colaco and Farukh Choudhary in place of Mandar Rao Desai and Md. Yasir in the 70th minute.
Subhasish Bose had a golden opportunity from a Brandon free-kick, but the ATKMB defender hit it straight to the goalkeeper in the 76th minute.
Sunil Chhetri missed his second good chance of the game in the 80th minute when his header went above goal from a Brandon corner.
The captain finally got his name on the scoresheet when he finished off a good move in the 82nd minute. Lalengmawia (Apuia) found Farukh Chowdhury inside the box. He headed the ball towards Sunil Chhetri, who volleyed the ball home from a close distance.
Nepal nearly equalized in the 85th minute, but Anjan’s shot from the edge of the box missed the mark narrowly.
Suman Arya of Nepal had a good run at the Indian goal in the 89th minute. He managed to get past three Indian defenders before losing control of the ball.
The match ended with the scoreline reading 1-0 in favor of India.
India moved to third on the table with this victory
India will still need to win their final game against the Maldives to secure their place in the finals without a doubt. However, a draw or a loss will bring in a couple of permutations and combinations into play. The match against Maldives will take place on October 13 i.e. Wednesday.
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