Lahore  -  India sealed a berth in 2018 SAFF Cup final after defeating Pakistan 3-1 in the semifinal played at Dhaka on Wednesday.

According to information made available here on Wednesday, young striker Manvir Singh  banged in a brace while forward Sumeet Passi struck one.

India’s young troop dominated the game from the beginning. Midfielder Vinit Rai unleashed a powerful strike from 25 yards away in the 11th minute but Pakistan goalkeeper Ijaz Butt made a brilliant save, tipping away the effort for a corner. Manvir almost gave the breakthrough in the 25th minute when his right-footer from the top of the box was saved by the keeper, following fine work by Faruk Choudhury, who outwitted defender Naveed Ahmad into the right side of the box.

Butt fisted away Ashique Kuruniyan’s left-footer from the box to rescue his side once again two minutes later. Pakistan earned an indirect free-kick at the edge of the six-yard box from where Ali’s effort was blocked. M Riaz’s shot from the top of the box after Qazi Nasir’s short pass forced the Indian custodian to make a decent save in the 38th minute. India went close to scoring a minute later when Faruk’s left-footer went inches wide off the far post.

India piled more pressure on the opponent after the break as Manvir finally gave the holder the lead three minutes into the second half after placing home into the near post from a tight angle, following Ashique’s low cross from the left side. Manvir doubled the lead in the 69th minute, firing home into the near post from the right side of the box.

Forward Sumeet Passi made immediate impact after coming off the bench to seal victory in the 84th minute as he headed the inch-perfect cross from Ashique from an unmarked position inside the six-yard box to register his name in the scorecard. Both the sides were reduced to 10 men in the 86th minute when Pakistan defender Mohsin Ali and Indian full-back Lallianzuala received red card for an off-the-ball clash.

Pakistan’s Hassan Bashir scored a consolation goal two minutes before the end of stipulated time with a grounder from 30 yards away after Sarthak cleared a long ball outside the box.

 

Pakistan’s Brazilian coach José Antonio Nogueira kept his squad unchanged but couldn’t bring back enough momentum to test the Indian defence, as well as putting enough resistance at the back, like they did in their group stage matches.

Indian head coach Stephan Constantine made a couple of changes in the starting XI in the semi-final as centre-back Sarthak Golui and midfielder Ashique Kuruniyan returned to replace defenders Jerry Lalrinzuala and Lallianzuala Chhangte.

With their third straight victory in as many matches, the most successful side in SAFF history will face Maldives as favourite on Saturday in the final. India beat Maldives 2-0 in their Group B encounter a few days back while the former also defeated the latter in their last final back in 2009 at BNS.

Like the current edition, India sent their U-23 side in that tournament. This will be the fourth SAFF final between the two countries and Maldives won only once in the previous three finals, when they clinched their only SAFF title back in 2008 in Colombo by beating India 1-0.