India and Nepal will cross swords in the SAFF Championship 2021 final on Saturday at the National Stadium in Male, Maldives. The two sides finished first and second respectively in the final league standings.
India raced to a comfortable 3-1 win over Maldives with a brace from Sunil Chhetri and another goal from Manvir Singh. Meanwhile, Nepal played out a 1-1 draw with Bangladesh as Sumon Raza and Anjan Bistha scored the goals.
The Blue Tigers needed all three points against erstwhile league leaders Maldives in order to set up a final clash with Nepal. The Blue Tigers started the game strongly with the lion's share of possession on the ball.
Igor Stimac's side went into the lead after a fine finish from Manvir Singh in the 31st minute. Lalengmawia won the ball back in the middle before Brandon Fernandes found Singh with a through ball. The ATK Mohun Bagan striker found the back of the net with a first-time finish at the near post to make it 1-0.
The hosts equalized at the cusp of half-time with Ali Ashfaq finding the back of the net from the spot after Pritam Kotal brought down Ali Fasir inside the box. The two teams went into the break with a 1-1 scoreline.
India kept on creating scoring opportunities in the second-half. Manvir Singh chested down a cross towards Chhetri. He dispatched it into the back of the net with a half-volley from inside the box to make it 2-1 in the 62nd minute.
The Blue Tigers extended their lead to 3-1 after Chhetri rose higher than anyone in the box to meet his header to a Pritam Kotal cross. The Bengaluru FC captain's impeccable neck movement allowed the header to go into the goal in the 71st minute.
Maldives never managed to get hold of the game for the remainder of the fixture. India went to the top of the SAFF Championship 2021 standings with a comprehensive 3-1 win.
Nepal play out a draw with Bangladesh, advance to maiden SAFF Championship final
A first-half goal from Sumon Raza was not enough for Bangladesh as Nepal came from behind to play out a 1-1 draw with a goal from Anjan Bistha. The draw propelled Nepal to second place in the SAFF Championship 2021 standings as Gorkhalis advanced to their maiden SAFF Championship final.
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The Bengal Tigers were down to 10-men in the second-half after Anisur Rehman handled the ball outside his box. Nepal had opportunities to score a few more goals through Bishal Rai and Nawayung Shreshtha in the second-half. But they had to be content with a solitary Bistha finish from the penalty spot following a contentious call from the referee.