The Indian National football team locked horns against continental rivals Pakistan in the semifinals of the SAFF Championship 2018 at the Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
The Blue Tigers set up the semifinal clash against Pakistan after their 2-0 win over the Maldives which saw Nikhil Poojary and Manvir Singh grab their maiden goals for the nation. The opponents Pakistan finished second in their group composed of Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan after their goal difference was lower than the Nepalese team.
The first half of the match was an end-to-end affair as both the sides had chances to score but did not get anything on the scoreboard. The second half saw India dominate proceedings as they added three goals to get a comfortable lead and Pakistan countered with a late goal but it was too little, too late as India sealed the win and the entry into the SAFF Championship 2018 final. India will take on the Maldives in the final on 15th September for a chance to retain their title.
Indian Starting XI
Vishal Kaith (6.5/10) - The Indian custodian was called into action on a couple of occasions early on in the match after some crafty footwork by the Pakistan attackers. Kaith was stellar between the sticks as he kept out a lot of shots away.
Davinder Singh (6.5/10) - The right-back for the Indian side was a constant presence on the attacking front with his darting runs down the line. He combined well with the attackers in front of him to create chances for the attackers.
Salam Ranjan Singh (6.5/10) - The lanky defender held the fort for the Indian team alongside Sarthak Golui as he was assertive in his tackles. He was always a danger for the Pakistanis with his aerial prowess during the set pieces.
Sarthak Golui (6.5/10) - The FC Pune City made his way back into the lineup and did well in the defence to ward off the Pakistani attacking threat. His strong throw-ins were a surprise attacking option for the Indian side and were used extensively.
Subhashish Bose (6.5/10) - The Indian captain played in his usual left-back role tonight and was involved in the attacks on a good scale. He made a lot of runs down the flank to support the attack and put in good crosses into the box.
Vinit Rai (7.5/10) - The defensive midfielder was comfortable on the ball in the middle of the park and moved the ball across well. Rai even tested the keeper from distance on a couple of occasions and notched an assist for the second goal.
Anirudh Thapa (7/10) - The engine of the Indian midfield, Thapa was constantly involved in the thick of things for India. He was given the setpiece duty as well and put in good deliveries into the box for the strikers.
Nikhil Poojary (5.5/10) - The winger had a relatively quiet first half of play compared to his performance from the last match. He was subbed off in the second half as Chhangte replaced him in the attack.
Ashique Kuruniyan (8.5/10) - The goalscorer in the first match against Sri Lanka was deployed on the left flank and even came close to scoring on one occasion. His cross into the box early in the second half led to India's first goal in the match and he added another assist when his cross was headed in by Passi.
Manvir Singh (9/10) - The FC Goa man had a couple of shots on goal in the first half but those were thwarted by the Pakistani goalkeeper. He got his second goal in the tournament when he met the low cross put in by Ashique Kuruniyan and sneaked his effort past Butt. He added another goal around the 70th minute when he blasted his effort into the top corner after a lay-off by Vinit Rai.
Farukh Choudhary (6.5/10) - Choudhary made a lot of runs into the Pakistan box and even created some chances for his teammates. His pace and movement were always concerning for the Pakistan defence.
Lallianzuala Chhangte (6/10) - The Delhi Dynamos player was put on in the second half for the final twenty-five minutes and had an immediate impact as his impressive run dodging three defenders led to the second goal scored by Manvir Singh. However, his temperament got the better of him when he lashed out at Moshin Ali after a squabble.
Sumeet Passi (6/10) - The striker came on for the final ten minutes replacing the goalscorer Manvir Singh who was stretchered off the pitch. He got his name on the scoresheet within minutes after coming on as he headed in a cross by Kuruniyan.
Vignesh D (2/10) - Vignesh came on to replace Ashique Kuruniyan in the lineup for the final stretch of the match.