South Asian Games: Indian women’s football team clinches third successive gold

Bala Devi was the star of the day, scoring a brace on either side of the half time to guide India to a comfortable victory over Nepal.

Indian team players celebrate the title victory after the referee blew the full time whistle.   -  Twitter/IndianFootball

The Indian women’s football team won its third consecutive gold medal at the South Asian Games by defeating host Nepal 2-0 in the final on Monday.

Bala Devi struck a brace on either side of the half time to guide India to a comfortable victory over the home side in the final. The 29-year-old striker also ended as the top-scorer of the tournament, netting five goals in four matches.

India went on the offensive from the very start, helped by Sangita Basfore and Ratanbala Devi dominating the proceedings from the middle of the park.

The first clear chance of the game fell to Ratanbala, who got to the end of Ranjana Chanu cross' but saw her shot fly over the crossbar.

India goalkeeper Aditi Chauhan, who has had a fantastic tournament by not conceding a single goal in five matches, turned provider when she found Bala, with a long ball upfield. The mercurial striker duly converted the chance to give India the lead in the 18th minute.

India had another chance around the half-hour mark, when a Ranjana corner was headed down by captain Ashalata Devi towards Sandhiya, but the latter was flagged offside.

Aditi made a couple of impressive saves on either side of the half-time break to keep India in the lead.

Head coach Maymol Rocky brought on Manisha in place of Sandhiya in the secondhalf and the move had instant impact. An intricate move in the 56th minute was ended with Ratanbala plying a through ball to Bala, who finished off the move to score her second goal of the match.

The Indians stayed on top of the host through the game to secure their third-straight gold medal.

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