Manvir brace propels India into SAFF Cup final

Manvir Singh struck twice and Sumeet Passi bagged a late goal to steer India to a 3-1 win over Pakistan and into the 2018 SAFF Cup final.

Manvir Singh celebrates after scoring against Pakistan during their 2018 SAFF Cup semifinal on Wednesday.   -  AIFF MEDIA

A Manvir Singh brace and a late Sumeet Passi header steered defending champion India to a 3-1 win over Pakistan and into the final of the 2018 SAFF Championship in Dhaka.

After a goalless first half, Manvir broke the deadlock the 49th minute. Ashique Kuruniyan made a stirring run down the left flank and played a delightful pass to Manvir, who coolly guided the ball past the Pakistan goalkeeper.

Lalliazuala Chhangte replaced Nikhil Poojari in the 68th minute made an immediate impact as India doubled its advantage. The super-sub made a blistering run down the middle of the pitch, sidestepped two defenders and passed it to Vinit Rai. The midfielder on turn rolled it to Manvir who blasted it home.

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However, following a challenge, Manvir was substituted and India coach Stephen Constantine brought in Sumeet Passi. The former AIFF Academy cadet took less than a minute to join the party as he found the target in the 83. Ashique, the architect of the first goal, made an identical run down the flank to deliver it for Passi who headed home clinically.

Sumeet Passi reacts after scoring against Pakistan on Wednesday.   -  AIFF Media


However, India received a late blow as Chhangte was given marching orders for an off the ball offence on Mohsin Ali. Mohsin was also red-carded for his challenge.

Pakistan's Hassan Bashir pegged one back in the 88th minute but it was too little too late as India held on to register a comfortable 3-1 win. India will now meet Maldives in the summit clash on September 15 (Saturday) after the latter made short work of Nepal 3-0 in the first semifinal.

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