In a thunderous display, the Red Snappers went all guns blazing courtesy an Ali Ashfaq double hat-trick and a listless display from the Lankan Lions scoring a fantastic 10 goals..
By Kaustav Bera with Ayush Srivastava at the stadium
Maldives demonstrated utter supremacy over a hapless Sri Lanka outfit in the Group B encounter at the SAFF Championship. They played the challengers out of the park with the match ending a lopsided 10-0 in their favour.
Abdulla Asadhulla started the blitzkrieg by finding the back of the net in the 5th minute and two penalty goals from the talisman, Ali Ashfaq in the 21st and 45th minute gave them a 3-0 lead in the first half. However they turned on the style in the second half with Ashfaq completing his hat-trick in the 51st minute. He scored two more in no time in the 53rd and 58th minute to take his tally to a ridiculous five goals in the game.
There was still more humiliation in store as Hassan Adhudham scored the seventh goal for his side in the 76th minute and Ali Fasir in the 83rd and Ali Umar in the 86th minute made it 9-0 for Maldives. The icing on the cake was put on by Ali Ashfaq who completed the double hat-trick by scoring his sixth goal in the 87th minute.
The Red Snappers couldn't have asked for a better start as Asadhulla Abdulla put Maldives ahead in the fifth minute, tapping in from a Ali Fasir cross.
Sri Lanka, on the other hand weren't able to piece together any effective move, before conceding a penalty in the 21st minute which also resulted in the Lankan goalkeeper, Mohamed Imran seeing a straight red.
Ali Ashfaq, who had won the penalty for his side stepped up and made no mistake burying the spot-kick.
Substitute goalkeeper, Dasun Paranavithana had to be brought on with a defender being sacrificed in the process but Maldives instead of taking advantage of the extra man, decided to knock the ball patiently around the park.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka had the onus on them to put bodies ahead in an attempt of reducing the margin before it was too late. However, whenever Roberto's side went ahead they left their back-line vulnerable with huge gaps for Maldives to exploit.
Maldives came close to scoring another goal in the 36th minute, but Dasuna did enough to deny Abdulla from a point blank range, after the latter played in by Rasheed's cross.
The Sri Lankans were mostly caught off-side on the attack and in the defense committed several errors in the box, this time skipper Suranda Bandara bringing down his counterpart Ali Ashfaq, who yet again scored from the 12 yards mark before the half-time.
Whatever Urbanyi spoke at the half-time break coupled with the tired Sri Lankan legs who had to cover for the one-man deficit, meant the Red Snappers were in complete control of the proceedings and finally they made it count as they went on a rampage.
The rout started in the 51st minute when Ali Ashfaq rounded the goalkeeper before putting the ball in the net and thereby completing his hat-trick. Two minutes later he scored his fourth, this time a scrappy one as his first effort was parried away by the keeper but the Man of Steel made no mistake on the rebound.
Ashfaq was clearly not done yet as in the 58th minute he scored his fifth of the match as he was free down the left wing before placing his shot at the far post with the goalkeeper being guilty in failing to avert the danger.
In the 76th minute, Hassam Adhuham got his team's seventh of the night as he was put clean through on goal and he casually rolled the ball past a hapless keeper who had clearly given up.
A double salvo in the 83rd and 86th minute saw them score their eighth and ninth goals as Ali Fasir and Ali Umar both cut in from the right wing beating the defender with ease before slotting the ball past the goalkeeper.
The icing on the cake came a minute later, when Ali Ashfaq completed his double hat-trick. Taking on three Lankan defenders and beating them with ease, he made no mistake putting the ball past Dasuna who clearly was cursing his luck for having to come on.
Maldives have clearly sent a statement of intent to all other participants of the SAFF Championship that they mean business.
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