Lallianzuala creates history as India enter SAFF Cup semis
Chhangte Lallianzuala created history by becoming the youngest goal scorer for India as the hosts bounced back from a goal down to beat Nepal 4-1 in their final group match, advancing to the semifinal of the South Asian Football Federation Cup on Sunday.
Apart from India, Sri Lanka is the other side from the Group A to qualify for the last-four stage.
India remained unbeaten in their group engagements, having beaten Sri Lanka 2-0 in the opening fixture.
18-year-old Lallianzuala’s (81st, 90th minute) twin strikes came in the final 10 minutes of the match after Rowlin Borges (26th minute) and skipper Sunil Chhetri found the target for India.
However, India were in for a shock when Nepal took the lead as early as in the third minute of the match through Bimal Magar’s strike.
Contrary to the result, it was Nepal which started on a positive note as Magar handed his side the lead in the third minute.
Rohit Chand’s ball forward saw Nawayug Shrestha get beyond Augustin Fernandes. Shrestha’s shot comes off the far post and lands in front of Magar who slotted the rebound into an empty net to stun the Indians.
But, India drew level in the 26th minute when Borges scored from a set piece. Narayan Das’ free-kick from the left bounces inside the box and found Borges who lashed it in to score the equaliser.
The two teams went into the breather locked at 1-1. Both India and Nepal made one substitution each in the Both India and Nepal made one substitution each in the second half. While Magar was replaced by Jagjit Shrestha, India brought in Lallianzuala in place of Pradhan.
India finally took the lead in the 68th minute through its inspirational skipper Chhetri.
The move started with Bikash Jairu who played it forward for Narzary, whose cross found out Chhetri and the Indian skipper then dodged past Jitendran Karki with a fine first touch to place the ball inside the net with his right foot to make it 2-1 in favour of the hosts.
Soon India had another shot at goal when Lallianzuala’s shot was cleared from the goalline by Aditya Chaudhari.
With the forwardline struggling to convert chances into goals, India coach Stepehen Constantine brought in in-form Jeje Lalpekhlua in place Chhetri in the 72minute.
Lallianzuala, playing only his second international match, made it 3-1 for India in the 81st minute with a left footed shot from the edge of the box goes into the far corner of the Nepal goal.
Minutes later, Narzary had a chance as he got on the end of a pass from Jairu but his shot was kept out by Chemzong.
It was promising Lallianzuala who stole the limelight when he scored his second goal of the day just in the final minute of the match.
Lallianzuala headed home a Broges ball over the top of the Nepal defence past goalkeeper Chemzong to increase India’s lead to 4-1.