DHAKA – India beat Pakistan 3-1 to romp into the final in the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Championship at the Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka on Wednesday.
After a goalless first-half, Manvir scored his first in the 49th minute only to double the score-line twenty minutes later. Substitute Passi sealed the fate of the match in the 83rd minute.
For Pakistan Hassan Bashir reduced the margin in the 88th minute. On Saturday’s final, India will take on the Maldives, who made short work of Nepal 3-0 in the first semi-final.
Even in defeat, the Pakistan players gave a good account of their game, holding a far higher-ranked Indian side to a goalless first half before all hell broke loose in the second.
India survived a scare in the 39th minute when Pakistan earned an indirect free-kick at the edge of the 6-yard box but Goalkeeper Vishal Kaith came up with back to back saves to deny Pakistan.
This will be Pakistan’s first appearance in the semi-final after 13 years where they faced defending champion India, the only unbeaten side in the competition so far.
India were placed in Group B alongside Sri Lanka and the Maldives while Group A consisted of Nepal, Pakistan, hosts Bangladesh, and Bhutan.
In pool matches, Pakistan beat Nepal 2-1, however, they lost their second group game,1-0 to hosts Bangladesh before ending their group stage with a 3-0 win over Bhutan.
Nepal, Pakistan, and Bangladesh were all tied on six points in Group A but the former two teams progressed to the semi-final stage courtesy of a better goal difference.
On the other hand, India started their tournament with a 2-0 win against Sri Lanka and then defeated Bhutan 2-0 before progressing to the semi-final.
Head to head, India have the upper hand against Pakistan in football.
Out of the 23 times, the two sides have met, India have won 10 games while Pakistan have won just three. Meanwhile, 10 games between the two sides have ended in a draw.
The last time the two sides met was during the 2013 SAFF Championship where India beat Pakistan 1-0.