Maldives 1-3 India – Savio Medeira’s Side Book Their Place In The Final
The Men In Blue entered their eighth SAFF Champions final at the expense of the high flying Maldives…
By Rahul Bali
A day of rest and a chance to book their place in the final saw India raise their performance several notches higher to go past ten-men Maldives in the semi-finals of the SAFF Championship at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Delhi.
Sunil Chhetri’s spot-kick turned out to be the difference between the two sides after Shamweel Qasim had cancelled out Syed Rahim Nabi’s first half goal. The Delhi lad scored another at the death to become the competition’s leading goalscorer with six goals.
India shall play the winner of the Afghanistan versus Nepal semi-final on December 11 at the same venue.
Maldives coach Istvan Urbanyi made one change in the starting line-up from the previous match as he included Mohamed Sifan in place of Mohamed Arif. On the other hand, India preferred to go with the same starting eleven.
The very second minute saw Clifford Miranda’s shot from the left being parried by Imran Mohammed with Jeje Lalpekhlua’s shot went over the bar.
A couple of minutes later, it was Ali Ashfaq who did well to cut in from the right and his shot, under pressure from Rocus Lamare, went wide. He had another shy on goal which didn’t bother Indian goalkeeper Karanjit Singh.
Imran Mohammed had to dive to his left to keep the scoreline intact as Jeje’s header from Syed Nabi’s cross was on its way in.
Sunil Chhetri’s attempt from the top of the box after Jeje did well to find him in space brought no rewards as the ball went sailing over the bar.
India kept dominating the possession as they launched several attacks while the opposition weren’t seeing much of the ball to create anything noteworthy.
It was Syed Nabi who opened the scoring as he knocked in a Clifford Miranda’s free-kick to the far post to send the Indian bench into ecstasy.
Shamweel Qasim’s lofted ball was brilliantly controlled by Ashfaq and held off Gouramangi and ended up side netting just before the half-time.
Ahmed Thariq was almost through on goal with a last ditch tackle by Syed Rahim Nabi averting the danger for India.
After the break, Maldives came out all guns blazing as it was Akram Abdul Gani’s cross from the left which Thariq headed but Karanjit Singh punched it over for a corner.
Urbanyi’s side were pressing much better and it seemed that the half-time team talk worked.
The equaliser came around the hour mark when Akram Abdul Gani found Shamweel Qasim whose peach of a shot gave Karanjit no chance whatsoever.
India were given a lifeline when referee Timur Faizullin awarded a soft penalty when Mohamed Umair appeared to have pulled down Chhetri inside the box. Chhetri sent the goalkeeper the wrong way to restore the lead.
Akram Abdul Gani from inside the box sent a ball across the face of the goal which only needed a touch from the outstretched leg of Ahmed Thariq after Karanjit was beaten.
Maldives threw way too many bodies ahead and from a counter, Chhetri crossed for substitute Jewel Raja but the Mohun Bagan midfielder missed it completely.
India had another couple of decent opportunities to add to the scoreline which they failed to capitalise on. However Chhetri had other ideas as he collected Jeje’s pass between two defenders and slotted home for his second.
In the injury time, Ahmed Thariq was given his marching orders as he picked up his second booking of the match.
That was effectively the last real piece of action in the game as India played down the clock and booked their place in the Final.
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- Own Goal
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- Penalty Shootout Miss
- Yellow Card / Red Card
- Red Card
- Substitution IN
- Substitution OUT
- Goal.com Rating
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- Top & Flop Global Ranking
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