Malé: Sunil Chhetri’s late strike ensured India’s first victory in the ongoing SAFF Championships as the Blue Pilgrims defeated Nepal 1-0 on October, 10 in Malé, Maldives. The goal saw him tied up with Brazil legend Pele’s record of 77 international goals.
A very determined for win, India had an upper hand going into the game itself gaining up a corner in about three minutes. , As India kept making on chances to feed Skipper Chhetri, the other captain Kiran Kumar Limbu, stepped up as the biggest hurdle to that.
India had the best chance of the half in the 34th minute when Pritam Kotal had fed Suresh who crossed it lowly to Chettri, only for the talisman to shot it agonizingly wide. Chettri created another which was not converted by Manvir Singh two minutes before the teams went into the break 0-0.
The Blue Tigers continued their momentum in the second half creating a lot of chances, although the lack of finishing was heaving up on their woes as it happened with previous encounters against Bangladesh and Sri-Lanka. With Brandon Fernandes missing to slot in a curler by inches to numerous foiled chances by Manvir. The Blues failed to register themselves.
However making up for the major miss in the first, it was Captain Chettri breaking the deadlock in the 82nd minute, volleyed home a sublime header from substitute Farukh Chowdhury who was fed by Brandon. Thus gaining all the three points from the tie.
With this win, India are now in the third spot on the Group table with five points, just one behind Maldives and Nepal, both of whom have acquired six points each.
India will be back in action on October 17, as they take on hosts Maldives for a final encounter at the same venue.Bang