Indian Football

SAFF Cup: Lallinzuala Chhangte sent off as Manvir Singh brace sends India into final with 3-1 win

Manvir Singh bagged his second and third goals of the tournament.

Manvir Singh’s double was enough for India to overcome Pakistan 3-1 on a muddy pitch in the SAFF Cup semi-final at the Bangabandhu Stadium on Wednesday. Sumeet Passi scored the third for Stephen Constantine’s men while Hassan Bashir scored a consolation goal for Pakistan.

Both teams were also reduced to 10 men towards the end as Lallinzuala Chhangte and Mohsin Ali were sent off for violent conduct.

This was the eighth SAFF Cup meeting between the two sides and Stephen Constantine made two changes to the team that defeated Maldives 2-0 in their final group stage encounter. Jerry Lalrinzuala and Lallinzuala Chhangte dropped to the bench as Ashique Kuruniyan and Sarthak Golui came back into the line-up.

In difficult conditions, Pakistan made a strong start as the Indian defenders found it difficult to cope with the long balls being launched by the opposition. Ashique Kuruniyan came close to opening the scoring, forcing a good save from goal-keeper Ijaz Butt.

Vishal Kaith had a moment to forget early on, as he handled a back-pass from Sarthak Golui in the box, conceding an indirect free-kick. Pakistan almost took the lead on the stroke of the interval as a ball into the box was headed over by Bashir, with Kaith caught in no-man’s land.

Manvir Singh then bagged his and India’s first goal of the night just after the resumption, as Kuruniyan’s low cross into the box was touched in at the near post. Constantine responded by taking Nikhil Poojary off and introducing Chhangte.

It was Chhangte who played a delicate ball to Delhi Dynamos team-mate Vinit Rai, who in turn set up Manvir Singh for a shot, which the forward crashed in at the near-post. Sumeet Passi, who was introduced in the 82nd minute, converted another cross from Kuruniyan two minutes later as the Jamshedpur FC forward headed it home to make it 3-0.

Chhangte then saw red as he lashed out while on the ground after being clattered into. As Mohsin Ali retaliated, the referee had no hesitation in sending both men off.

Hassan Bashir gave the Pakistanis something to cheer for, as his shot from outside the box went past Kaith, the first goal that the keeper and India have conceded in this tournament. The match ended with Pakistan mustering two more attempts, but Subhasish Bose and his defence kept them out.

Maldives defeated Nepal 3-0 earlier and ensured a place in the final against India on Saturday.

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