SAFF CUP: India drubs Maldives 2-0 to coast into semis

India defeated Maldives 2-0 to cruise into the semifinal of the 2018 SAFF Championship.

The Indian players celebrating a goal during their 2-0 win against Sri Lanka.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Good evening, welcome to Sportstar's live blog of the SAFF Championship, Group B match between India and Maldives.

That's the whistle. India cruises into the semifinal with a comprehensive 2-0 win over Maldives and will now face Pakistan in a mouth-watering semifinal clash.

However, confusion prevails on whether Maldives or Sri Lanka will advance from Group A as both teams have finished with one point each and the same goal difference.

90+4' Maldives throwing bodies forward in search of that elusive goal but there's just no getting past Vishal Kaith.

90+2' Hitesh Sharma nearly makes it three! He fires a powerful header but misses the target by a whisker.

90' The fourth official has signalled for five minutes of added time.

89' That was close! Vishal Kaith makes a fine diving save to block Hussain's curling freekick.

87' Offside! Manvir makes a fine run into the opposition box but is deemed offside.

86' There's India's third change of the evening. Hitesh Sharma comes on for Nikhil.

80' Fasir is released into space and he makes a surging run towards the Indian goal but Salam Ranjan proves to be faster and parries the ball away to safety.

78' Maldives needs to score at least one goal to advance to the next round on goal difference.

74' Indian goalkeeper Vishal Kaith goes into the referee's book. That's India's second yellow card of the evening.

73' Successive attacks from Maldives here. Substitute Naiz Hassan receives the ball on the edge of the box and works his way past a defender to take a shot at goal but fails to find the target.

72' Not a bad attempt at all. Maldives captain Akram Ghanee lets one rip from distance but the shot zooms just wide of the post.

70' OUCH! Goal-scorer Manvir takes a knock to his head and is getting medical treatment.

68' Second substitution for India. Sumeet Passi comes on for Faruk.

65' Faisal makes another good save and India wins its second corner in as many minutes. However, the side fails to convert either.

64' Maldives 'keeper Faisal makes a fine attempt to palm away a cross from the right. Corner to India.

60' The Indians have done the major chunk of attacking in the opening 15 minutes here.

55' CLOSE! Faruk is played on goal and he steers past his defender but fails to get the ball past the onrushing goalkpeer. Maldives 'keeper Faisal seems to have taken a knock to the shin in the process and is receiving some quick treatment.

53' Davinder Singh picks up a yellow card for a rash tackle.

50' Nope, its well defended by the Maldives defence.

50' Corner for India. Can the side further expand its lead?

47' Maldives makes an early attack and forces Vishal into action right away.

45' India makes it first change of the game,  Vignesh D comes on for Chhangte.

And we're back. Can India extend its lead or will Maldives fight back to register their first win of the tournament and cruise into the semis?

There goes the whistle. India goes into the break with a two-goal lead courtesy of strikes from Nihkil Poojary and Manvir Singh.

45' AND WE HAVE THE SECOND GOAL! Anirudh Thapa plays a delightful through ball to Manvir Singh, who rounds the keeper and busts the net to double India's lead. Interestingly, much like Nikhil , this is Manvir's first goal for the national side.

41' Maldives stepping up its attack now. The side has to win, if not draw to make its way into the semifinal.

36' THERE'S THE OPENER! Nikhil Poojari makes a surging run from midfield and plays a lovely one-two with Faruk on the edge of the box. Faruk plays him in on goal and Nikhil coolly slots the ball past Maldives goalkeeper Faisal to score his first goal for the national team. India leads 1-0.

35' India has dominated possession so far with 62 percent but hasn't been able to find the opening goal just yet.

32' Another good chance for India. Thapa's cross finds Salam Ranjan Singh in the box but he fails to get his attempt past an onrushing defender.

25' We're nearly half way into the opening half of this Group B clash and the scoreline remains 0-0. Both sides have had their share of chances but Nikhil's chance in the 11th minute remains the best chance so far.

23' The Indian attack is looking sharp now. They're making frequent forays into the Maldives box and looks like we could see the opening goal soon.

19' The Indian defenders manage to clear the lines. Not in the most convincing manner, but they manage to eradicate the threat.

18' Free kick to Maldives from about forty odd yards. The kick is looped into the box but is well dealt with by the Indian defence. Maldives wins its fourth corner.

15' We're fifteen minutes into the tie and Vishal Kaith has been kept busy so far. He seems to be in good touch and has made a couple of crucial saves.

11' OH WHAT A CHANCE! Anirudh Thapa plays a delightful cross from the right and finds Nikhil, who has a free header but floats his attempt well above the goal. India should have been 1-0 up.

8' We nearly had the opening goal there! Nikhil Poojari floats in a cross to the far post and in the defensive efforts Mohamed Arif tried to head the ball above the goal but found the crossbar. 

6' Jerry Lalrinzuala mistimes his clearance and gives Maldives half a chance, but the side fails to make the most of it.

4' Maldives make an early attempt on the Indian goal but the defence manages to hold fort.

1' Vishal Kaith called into action right away! He rushes off his line to make a sweeping clearance.

And we're off! India playing in orange and Maldives donning the blue.

The players are on the pitch and we're only a few minutes away from action! Stay tuned.

Kick-off in 45 minutes.

The starting XIs of the two teams are out.

India starting XI: Vishal Kaith (GK), Subhasish Bose, Jerry Lalrinzuala, Davinder Singh, Salam Ranjan Singh, Anirudh Thapa, Vinit Rai, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Farukh Choudhary, Manvir Singh, Nikhil Poojary

Maldives starting XI: Mohamed Faisal (GK), Ali Samooh, Hussain Yoosuf, Mohamed Irufaan, Mohamed Arif, Asadhulla Abdulla, Akram Ghanee, Ibrahim Hussain, Mohamed Mujuthaaz, Ibrahim Waheed, Ahmed Imaaz


India began its title defence with a comfortable 2-0 win over Sri Lanka, while Maldives secured a point from a goalless draw against Sri Lanka in its opening match. As long as Maldives doesn't lose to India by a margin of one goal, it will progress to the semifinals along with the defending champion, knocking out Sri Lanka.

You can read the preview of India's clash against Maldives here.