India 3-0 Sri Lanka: The Men In Blue Set Up A Semi-Final Date With Maldives
Savio Medeira’s boys made it into the final four of the competition as they downed the Sri Lankans 3-0…
By Rahul Bali
The defending champions shall face Maldives in the first semi-final of the SAFF Championship as they finished runners-up in Group A after defeating Sri Lanka 3-0 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Delhi.
Two second half goals from Jeje Lalpekhlua and Sunil Chhetri , and an own goal by Bandara Warakagoda, helped India go past the Lankans who failed to threaten the Indian backline
India and Afghanistan finished on the same number of points and the head-to-head wouldn’t matter given they played out a 1-1 draw among them. Afghanistan enjoy a better goal difference of +9 when compared to India’s +8.
Savio Medeira made no changes to the line-up from the last match while Sri Lanka brought in Chathura Gunarathna back into the first eleven after having recovered from a bout of flu.
The first chance befell the Men in Blue when Sujan Perera, the Sri Lankan custodian, tried to play the ball out for a goal-kick but gives away a free-kick on the edge of the box. Clifford Miranda’s delivery left a lot to be desired.
Thereafter the game got into a lull mode wherein neither team showed any urgency to win and the pace of the game was too slow which deprived the audience any worthwhile action.
The ball was being aimlessly put forward by the defences of the two sides and the midfield lacked creativity which made the strikers look clueless.
It was in the 39th minute that Chhetri went down the left flank to send in a looping cross which Syed Rahim Nabi, after making a great run from the back, makes a bad connection and the opportunity went begging.
The best moment of the half came when Jeje’s shot on the turn touched the cross-bar on its way out.
India finally managed to get a breakthrough in the 53rd minute when Jeje side footed it in after Chhetri, who was found in space by Anthony Pereira, saw his shot being parried over. A defensive lapse by the Island nation cost them dear.
Jeje could have scored his second of the evening but decided to set-up his strike partner who shot it way over the bar around the hour mark.
Sri Lanka left too much space for the Indian strikers to work around and gave away some needless free-kicks which didn’t help their cause either.
Credit must go to Sujan Perera who kept his side in the game when he tipped over a firm shot from Chhetri from outside the box.
India’s second came through Chhetri who outjumped Danushka Vijesiri to head home from a Clifford Miranda cross.
Towards the end, substitute Sushil Singh put Chhetri through but the striker’s shot went wide with only the goalkeeper to beat.
Sushil, himself, had an opportunity to score when his header at the near post from a Steven Dias free-kick was collected by the rival goalkeeper.
The final nail in the coffin came in the end when Bandara Warakagoda scored an own goal from a Steven Dias cross in the injury time.
That bought to an end a positive second half performance by India, which saw them run away 3-0 winners on the night and book a place in the semi-finals versus Maldives.
Catch all the latest Live action and match highlights from SAFF Championship here
- Own Goal
- Penalty Missed
- Yellow Card
- Penalty Save
- Penalty Shootout Goal
- Penalty Shootout Miss
- Yellow Card / Red Card
- Red Card
- Substitution IN
- Substitution OUT
- Goal.com Rating
- Goal.com Man of the Match
- Goal.com Flop of the Match
- Top & Flop Global Ranking
- Fans' Man of the Match
- Fans' Flop of the Match