India kept their best for the last match as they beat Nepal 3-0 in the final of the SAFF Championship 2021 to win the trophy for the eighth time.
Skipper Sunil Chhetri opened the scoring in the 49th minute while Suresh Singh doubled the lead a minute later. Sahal Abdul Samad added the third late into the match when he dribbled past a few Nepal defenders to seal the win for India.
This is the eighth time India won the SAFF trophy.
Head coach Igor Stimac was not present on the sidelines because of suspension but his absence was not reflected in the match. Although India didn't create many chances in the first half, they ended up dominating their opponents. Nepal knew what was in store for them so they soaked in the pressure and tried to play the counter-attacking game.
India showed intent as soon as the second-half began and it didn't take long for Chhetri to score from a header. Suresh then found the back of the net after Yasir Mohammad found the midfielder with a superb cutback.
Nepal pushed hard to reduce deficit but India did well to keep the two-goal lead intact. Sahal, who came as a substitute, showed his superb dribbling skills and slotted the ball in the 90th minute.
India will be proud of their turnaround in the tournament. After struggling against the likes of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka " both matches ending in draws, India won the next two against Nepal and Maldives to qualify for the final and then overcame a tough challenge on Saturday.
Here's how twitter celebrated Indian football team's win:
Words & numbers can't do justice to what this man means to the national team. Sunil Chhetri becomes only the second Indian player to top score in two SAFF Cup editions (2011 & 2021). The first one to do this was IM Vijayan (1993 & 1997). #IndianFootball pic.twitter.com/aZY3FRNAx9
" IndianFootball_History (@IndianfootballH) October 16, 2021
All's well that ends well. Congratulations @IndianFootball for the eighth SAFF Championship triumph. Like Sunil Chhetri said, this wasn't easy, but the team delivered when it mattered the most. #IndianFootball
" Marcus Mergulhao (@MarcusMergulhao) October 16, 2021
Last 3 wins for India (Nepal, Maldives, Nepal) have been commendable: first Nepal win may not have been pretty but delivered late on under a lot of pressure and then turned on the sort of performances we would expect in a tournament like #SAFF.
8-time winners @IndianFootball
" Akarsh Sharma (@Akarsh_Official) October 16, 2021
India have technically far better players in South Asia. It was always the tactics affecting the gameplay, and of course, the lack of quality finishers. India clearly the better side. Kudos to Nepal for their best SAFF finish. 8th #SAFF time for the #BlueTigers! #IndianFootballl
" Sayak (@sayakdd28) October 16, 2021
We started first two matches badly but ended the #SAFFChampionship2021 with a Trophy.
" Shaji Prabhakaran (@Shaji4Football) October 16, 2021
Sunil Chhetri hands over the trophy to Rahul Bheke and walks away. Letting the new ones take the limelight. Class act! pic.twitter.com/1OI2acaKB0
" Kaushal Shukla (@KasualShukla) October 16, 2021
" Indian Football Team (@IndianFootball) October 16, 2021
Sunil Chhetri, man. Indian football got lucky with him. pic.twitter.com/4wCgT9pdW1
" Vinayakk (@vinayakkm) October 16, 2021
" Hari Thoyakkat (@harithoyakkat) October 16, 2021