India thrashed neighbours Bhutan 5-0 to register their first win in the SAFF Championship 2011 and get their campaign back on track after a disappointing draw against Afghanistan in the opening group match. Syed Rahim Nabi opened the scoring for India in the evening which was backed up by braces from Clifford Miranda and Sunil Chhetri.
Savio Medeira decided to field Nirmal Chhetri and Anthony Pereira in place of injured Samir Naik and Steven Diaz. The duo of Jeje Lalpekhlua and Sunil Chhetri lead the attack for the hosts.
India dominated the match right from the start, but had to wait half an hour to open their account at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi after spurning a handful of chances. It was Mohun Bagan’s Syed Rahim Nabi who got to the end of a Clifford Miranda corner and headed India into the lead in the 29th minute.
India again struck before the half time break when Sunil Chhetri found a pass to Clifford Miranda inside the box. Cliffords first effort rebounded off Jeje, but he found the target in his second shot doubling the lead for India against Bhutan team which was left clueless.
Clifford found his second of the day in the 58th minute as he unleashed a long ranger after receiving the ball from Sunil. It was the 29 year old’s fifth goal for the national team.
The fourth goal for India also was fro the partnership between Clifford and Sunil, but it was Chhetri who was on the scoresheet this time as he side footed a lovely cross from Clifford.
There was still time left for Chhetri to make it 5-0 as he dribbled past three Bhutan defenders and placed the ball in the back of the net beating keeper Mon Bhattrai and getting the three points in style for India.
Earlier today, Afghanistan continued their good show in the tournament as they shocked Sri Lnka 3-1 at the JNS. Afghans went behind in the 17th minute, but a brace from Sandjar Ahmadi and Ata M Yamrali won them all three points.
India now top the group on better goal difference and only require a draw to progress to the next stage of the championship. They will take on Sri Lanka in the final group match.