Sri Lanka took a giant step towards semi final qualification after thrashing Bhutan 6-0 at the Bangabandhu National Stadium, Dhaka in a Group B match of the 2009 SAFF Cup on Sunday afternoon. The goalless draw between Bangladesh and Pakistan in the evening game, confirmed Lanka's place in the last four.
Striker Kasun Jayasuriya scored a hat-trick, Ediri Channa bagged a brace and midfielder Chathura Gunaratne also got on the scoresheet.
Sri Lanka opened the scoring as early as the eighth minute when Ediri Channa got on the end of a lovely through pass from Sanjeev and slotted the ball past Bhutan keeper Leki with a very good finish.
The Lankans were dominating possession however Bhutan did have a great chance to level the scorers when Nawang Dhendup got a clear sight of goal but the striker failed to find the back of the net.
A few minutes later, midfielder Passang Tshering had a one on one situation with the Lanka custodian Lankasera but he delayed in taking the shot which allowed the Sri Lankan defence to clear away the danger.
Bhutan were punished for not taking those opportunities as Channa scored the second in the 25th minute after converting a pass from Issadeen.
Lanka striker Jayasuriya should have made it 3-0 in the 33rd minute but he uncharacteristically lacked composure in front of goal.
Bhutan could have pulled one back through Gyeltshen but the striker failed to hit the target after being well setup by Sonam Tenzing.
Jayasuriya finally managed to score the third five minutes before the break after finding the back of the net from a narrow angle.
Bhutan started a bit cautiously in the second half and there were not too many chances in the early stages. The Bhutanese boys improved their game and were threatening to score a goal.
Sri Lanka keeper Lankasera had to produce two good saves to preserve the clean sheet as both Gyeltshen and Nawang Dhendup were denied in quick succession.
Jayasuriya finally put the game to bed in the 66th minute by scoring his second of the game after some confusion in the Bhutan defence. Twelve minutes later, he got his hat-trick after finishing a pass from Issadeen.
Sri Lanka were hungry for more goals and Channa nearly scored the sixth seven minutes from the 90 but he blasted his effort wide of the target.
In the dying minutes of the game, midfielder Chathura Gunaratne scored his second of the game to make it 6-0 in favour of the 1995 champions.
Bhutan are now out of contention for a semi final place so their game against Pakistan on Tuesday will only be for pride.
Sri Lanka need a draw against Bangladesh to win the group but coach Sampatha Pereira might be tempted to rest a few key players considering the difficult fixture schedule.
Goalscorers: Ediri Channa (Sri Lanka) 8', 25', Kasun Jayasuriya (Sri Lanka) 40', 66', 78', Chathura Gunaratne (Sri Lanka) 90+2'