SAFF Championship 2018 Semi Final - India beat Pakistan to enter final
A Manvir Singh brace set up a win for the Blue Tigers who got the better of their neighbours 3-1 in the semi-final...

Stephen Constantine' Indian U-23 team defeated Pakistan 3-1 in the second semi-final of the 2018 SAFF Championship at the Bangabandhu Stadium in Dhaka, Bangladesh on Wednesday.

Manvir Singh (48' and 69') scored a brace and birthday boy Sumeet Passi (84') added in another before the game was reduced to ten-a-side. Hassan Bashir (88') got a late consolation but India sealed entry to a record eleventh final of the regional tournament.

Sarthak Golui and Ashique Kuruniyan made a return to the starting eleven for India from their 2-0 win over the Maldives. Skipper Subhasish Bose was deployed at the left back position as Nikhil Poojary and Manvir kept their place courtesy their goals in the previous game.

Pakistan who romped over Bhutan 3-0 in the final group stage game retained the same lineup as José Antonio Nogueira gave up hopes of fielding Adnan Mohammed in the lineup after Bangladeshi authorities failed to provide him with a visa.

There was action right from the start as both sides had few attempts on goal as both goalkeepers, Vishal Kaith and Yousaf Butt replied with due diligence. Manvir started to show promise in the first half itself.

In the twenty-fifth minute, Farukh Choudhury and Manvir played a quick one-two before the FC Goa man attempted a side-footed shot past Yousaf but the Greve Fodbold man kept it out brilliantly.

Kaith then conceded a direct free-kick inside his own box after he picked up Davinder Singh's backpass with his hands - an error not expected at this stage. He, however, redeemed himself by denying Hassan Bashir twice from the rebound off the dangerous set-piece.

Pakistan, who had held on in the first half took less than two minutes to concede. This time, Shehbaz Younus was nowhere in sight to stifle Kuruniyan who played on a brilliant ball from the left flank for Manvir to poke it in to break the deadlock.

Lallianzuala Chhangte's introduction into the game in place of Nikhil Poojary yielded a second almost immediately. It was Kaith who fisted a ball away and the winger broke into a counter, finding Vinit Rai who ultimately set up Manvir for his second of the night.

Sumeet Passi was brought on for the last ten minutes as Manvir had to be stretchered off, thus missing a chance to score a hat-trick. The Jamshedpur FC forward joined the party and made it 3-0 on his birthday by heading in an inch-perfect cross from Kuruniyan.

Bad blood embroiled between and Chhangte and Mohsin Ali and both were shown direct red cards, thus flaring up the age-old contest between the two nations. Hassan Bashir got his third of the tournament but it was too little too late for the Pakistanis as they bowed out of 2018 SAFF Cup.

Defending champions India will now play the Maldives, who earlier won their semi-final against Nepal 3-1 in the final on Saturday at the same venue.

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