India dominated the proceedings as they outplayed one of the title favourites, Maldives, 3-1 in the semi final at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi and booked their place in the final of the SAFF Championship 2011. Syed Rahim Nabi put India ahead, but Maldives hit back through Shamweel Qasim to stay level. But another man of the match performance from Sunil Chhetri, this time with two goals killed the hopes of Maldives who were looking for a place in the final for the third time in a row.
India started the match on the front foot as Jeje Lalpekhlua missed two easy chances to score in the first 15 minutes of the game. One one ocassion the striker had an empty goal to target at, but missed on his effort. But India went 1-0 up in the 25th minute as Syed Rahim Nabi volleyed in a free kick from Clifford Miranda.
The first half saw an almost one-sided display by Team India and Maldives who were projected as the biggest challenge for the hosts where caught napping for lion share of the match. And India kept their advantage into the half time break.
After the lime break, Maldives came back into the game when Shamweel Qasim produced a brilliant effort to equalise in the 59th minute, just after Clifford Miranda missed an opportunity to put India in the comfort zone.
But India came back to restore their one goal lead in the 68th minute, when Sunil Chhetri was brought down in the penalty area by Maldives defender Aasad Ghani and referee waved for a penalty kick. Chhetri who stepped up to take the kick didn’t miss the target from the spot and put India back in the driving seat.
The final nail on Maldive’s coffin was struck by Chhetri in the additional minute of the second half as he produced a solo effort to take India into the final of the competition.
India will play Afghanistan, in the final on Sunday at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, who defeated Nepal in the semi final with the help of a goal in the extra time of the semi final. India and Afghanistan had played out a 1-1 draw in a Group A match earlier in the tournament.