Indian Football

Sunil Chhetri bags brace as India book place in 2021 SAFF Championship final

Ali Shibil Roshan
Chhetri bagged a brace vs Maldives
Chhetri bagged a brace vs Maldives / Matthew Ashton - AMA/GettyImages

Goal from Manvir Singh and a second-half brace from the ever-reliable skipper Sunil Chhetri propelled India to a 3-1 win over Maldives in their final group stage game of the 2021 SAFF Championship and sealed their spot in the final of the competition.

India, who entered the game needing all three points, broke the deadlock on 33 minutes as Manvir Singh fired an unstoppable shot into the top corner.

The Blue Tigers, though, were pegged back on the stroke of half-time as Ali Ashfaq converted the penalty that was awarded to them after Pritam Kotal fouled Hamza Mohamed inside the box.

Chhetri fired home on 62 minutes to hand the India lead again. The 37-year-old struck a first-time shot past the Maldives shot-stopper after Manvir had played an Apuia cross towards the Indian captain with his chest.

Chhetri then sealed India's victory with another goal nine minutes. A free-kick was awarded to India on the right, and the subsequent delivery was headed into the back of the net by Chhetri, scoring his 79th international goal.

India football team head coach Igor Stimac was sent off for his behaviour on 80 minutes, so was Subhasish Bose in the injury time as he picked up a second yellow card on the night.

Meanwhile, with the victory India finished the group stage as table toppers and will face Nepal in the final.