Thiruvananthapuram: An 18-year-old Lallianzuala Chhangte came off the bench to score a brace, one of which was a world-class curler, as India drubbed Nepal 4-1 to ease into the semifinals of the SAFF Cup at the Greenfield Stadium here on Sunday.
Chhangte — on his second cap — has become India’s youngest goal-scorer, eclipsing Baichung Bhutia with goals in the 81st and 90th minutes. Bimal Magar had put Nepal in the lead on three minutes but Rowlin Borges equalised on 26 and skipper Sunil Chhetri struck seven minutes past the hour-mark.
Nepal’s lead was a shocker as Magar had an easy finish on the rebound off the post from Nawayug Shrestha’s strike with the India defence caught napping. Chhangte was introduced at the break, replacing Sanju. He got involved straight away, playing a one-two with Chhetri. But Nepal had the first shot as Nawayug Shrestha forced a low diving save on Subrata. Chhangte was outmuscled on the edge of the box by Aditya Chaudhury.
Hemang Gurung stung Subrata’s gloves from range and at the other end, Augustin Fernandes sliced a header straight into Limbu’s custody. Chhetri, who had tucked into the striker role after the hour, gave India the lead with a cool finish. Jairu had released Narzary, who crossed and Chhetri guided the ball into the left corner, with his right foot.
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