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India beat Bangladesh 4-3 on penalties to qualify for the U-19 SAFF Championship final

India will now play hosts Nepal in the final

India will now play hosts Nepal in the final

India qualified for the U-19 SAFF Championships after beating Bangladesh 4-3 on penalties after a goalless draw in regulation time. India will now play the hosts Nepal in the final on the 29th of August.

India started with the same team that had comfortably beaten Maldives 3-0 in the last game to qualify for the semi-finals. The Indian U-16 team were recently beaten in the finals of the U-16 SAFF Championships by Bangladesh so it was the perfect occasion for India to level the score.

The first chance of the game fell for India in the fourth minute when the Bangladesh goalkeeper was adjudged to have committed a foul and an indirect freekick was awarded to India. Indian captain Daniel took the responsibility for the free kick hitting a fearsome shot that went under the wall but the Bangladeshi keeper made up for his initial mistake saving the shot with his legs to keep the scores level.

India kept the pressure on as Lalramzauva went past four defenders to unleash a stinging shot towards goal. The Bangladeshi keeper was unable to hold on to the initial shot and it looked like the ball would cross the line, but he was able to grab hold of it to keep the scores even.

Both sets of players were defending really well and restricting their opponents to shots from distance. Barai was the first one called into action, but the shot was a weak one. Japes tried his luck, on the other end, but his shot was well over the bar while Shahbaaz was unable to direct his header on target.

Pranshant replaced Japes in the first half

Due to the lack of chances created, Indian coach Syed Sabir Pasha, replaced Japes with Prashant in the 37th minute. The first half went by without any major chances being created by either side.

Both teams were cautious in the second half as they seemed more interested in not losing than going for a win. In the 61st minute, Thapa tried to take on the keeper from distance, but his shot went over. India then received a freekick in a dangerous area but again the deliveries from set pieces was not up to the standard. 

Rohit substituted the substitute Prashant as Pasha tried to win the game in the last fifteen minutes of the game. Both keepers were spectators in the second half as the game was fought in midfield with both sides defending very well.

But that was till the last minute of regulation time. In the last minute, Lalramzauva curled a freekick from 20 yards but it was well read by the Bangladeshi keeper. The best chance of the match came in injury time and it fell for Moinuddin who brought the ball down brilliantly on his chest, but his shot was inches wide of the post. With no way to separate the teams the game headed into a penalty shootout.

The penalty shoot-out

India’s set-piece expert, Lalramzauva, stepped up to take the first penalty but the under pressure he blasted the ball over the bar. Bangladesh calmly converted their first spot kick with a shot into the top corner.

Shahbaaz was up next and even though the keeper guessed correctly the ball hit the side netting to bring India level. Bangladesh scored their second penalty as well with yet another shot right into the top corner. Late substitute Rohit converted his spot kick and Bangladesh missed their first one level up the scores at two-a-piece.

Then came the moment of controversy as Gursimrat's penalty was stopped but he was asked to take it again as the goalkeeper was well off his line before the penalty was hit. On the resulting penalty, the defender gave India the lead for the first time in the match. 

As a result of Barai’s save, Gouli had the chance to book a place in the final for the Indians but the youngster was unlucky to see the ball come out off the inside of the post. Bangladesh converted their chance to take the game into sudden death.

Indian captain Daniel stepped up to start the proceedings in sudden death and never looked like missing and handed India the advantage. The very next penalty was blasted over the bar and India finally made their way to the final.

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