Lebanon moved closer to the semifinals of the SAFF Championship with a commanding 4-1 victory over Bhutan at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium here on Saturday.
Lebanon came to the match as the favourites and it underscored that status with chilling authority, slamming in four goals in the first half itself.
With six points and a match to go against the Maldives on June 28, Lebanon is on top of Group B and that much nearer to a last-four berth.
Bangladesh and Maldives have three points apiece and they are also in the race to enter the semifinals. With two defeats from as many matches, Bhutan is out of contention.
On a night when the skies opened up with vengeance, Lebanon went ahead as early as in the 11th minute through Mohamad Sadek. Ali Al Haj swelled the scoreline to 2-0 in the 23rd minute, beating a diving Bhutan goalkeeper T Dendup with a sweet first-touch shot from inside the box.
Lebanon seemed to have perfectly understood the group equations as they pressed on for more goals and the third goal came in the 35th minute. Khalil Bader latched on to a shot from Mahdi Zein to beat the oncoming Bhutan custodian to make it 3-0.
However, Lebanon refused to take the foot off the pedal and made it 4-0 in the 43rd minute when an unmarked Mahdi slammed the ball into the net off a cross.
In the second half, however, Bhutan managed to find some footing and add to the working minutes of Lebanese defenders. Chencho Gyeltshen forced his way into the Lebanon box and eked out a penalty after he was fouled.
However, a poor effort saw the opportunity getting dusted. But Bhutan forward atoned for that lapse in the 79th minute when he outwitted Lebanese goalkeeper Antoine Aldouary at the end of a very fine solo run.
But Lebanon had already managed to inflict irrevocable damage by then.
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