Dhaka, Sept 12 (UNB) – Holders India made their 11th final berth of the seven-nation SAFF Suzuki Cup eliminating their arch-rival Pakistan by 3-1 goals in the 2nd semifinal at the floodlit Bangabandhu National Stadium here on Wednesday evening.
The 7th time champions, India, will play the final on Saturday (September 15) at 7pm at the same venue against the Maldives, the champions of 2008 SAAF Cup, which made the final berth shocking spirited Nepal by 3-0 goals in the first semifinal earlier in the day.
After a barren first, Manvir Singh struck twice and Sumeet Passi netted one for the India while Hassan Bashir netted the lone goal for Pakistan.
Both the teams were reduced to 10 men in the 86th minute when Mohsin Ali of Pakistan and Lalianzuala Changte were shown direct red cards for a brawl among themselves. Changte punched Pakistani forward Hasan Basheer after a foul and Mohsin came running from behind to push Changte.
Just three minutes after the resumption, Ashik Kuruniyan darted down the left flank before cutting the ball back to onrushing Manvir Singh who placed the ball past Ijaz Yusuf Butt from handshaking distance (1-0).
The fate of the match was decided in the 69th minute with Manvir adding his second goal. It was a perfect build-up by substitute Laliuazuala Changte who drifted through the midfield, cut a diagonal pass to Vinit Rai who pushed the ball to Manvir who hit the far post net with diagonal drive (2-0).
Photo: UNB/Bayazid Akter
A demoralised Pakistan conceded the third in the 83rd minute when Ashik Kuruniyan used the free space in the right flank and cut a cross for substitute Sumeet Pasi, who headed home (3-0).
Pakistan’s consolation came in the 89th minute with Hassan Bashir slamming home with grounder after Indian defender Sharthak Golui’s headed clearance set him free (3-1).
Earlier, in a lively opening first quarter of the hour, Pakistan was the first to open the opponent defence. In the 7th minute Pakistani forward Hasan Basheer cut an angular grounder from the right edge of the box forcing Indian custodian Vishal Kaith to stretch to his limit to grip the ball.
India reacted quickly with two counterattacks with Manvir Singh diving forward to head low cross of Ashik Kuruniyan that went straight to Pakistani goalie Ijaz Yusuf Butt in the eighth minute and Vinit Rai saw his 25 yarder punched for a corner in the following minute.
India, however, were more enterprising in the second quarter of the hour pressing Pakistan back. Ijaz was in his brilliant best in the 24th minute to deny Manvir Singh who placed a cut back to the far post and two minutes later pulled out another acrobatic punch on a rasping drive of Ashik Kuruniyan that earned India the third corner.
Pakistan piling pressure upon their opponents sent a big chill in the 37th minute with forward Mehmood Khan unleashing a fierce right footer that was picked by Vishal Kaith with a quick reaction and Indian forward Farukh Haji Kasam Chowdhury’s volley was punched by Ijkaz Butt in the following minute.
India were fortunate in the first minute of the two minute added time when Hasan Basheer’s head on a cross of Saddam Hossain beat Vishal Kaith in the air but missed the side post.
Dhaka, Sept 12 (UNB) – The Maldives smartly reached the final of the seven-nation 12th SAFF Suzuki Cup’2018 stunning Nepal by 3-0 goals in the rain-marred first semifinal at the Bangabandhu National Stadium here on Wednesday.
The former champions, the Maldives, will play final on September 15 at 7 pm against the winner of the second semifinal between India and Pakistan scheduled to be held from 7pm on Wednesday at the same venue.
The day’s first semifinal was stopped for about half an hour due to rain and thundershower in the capital.
Captain Akram Abdul Ghanee scored one goal while Ibrahim Waheed scored two goals in a span of only two minutes for the Maldives, which dominated the first half by a solitary goal.
The Maldives who came to the semifinals riding on the coin in the toss saved their best for the last to outplay Nepal who after falling behind early did all apart from scoring a goal.
Nepal which smartly reached the semifinals as Group champions by virtue of better goal difference denying host Bangladesh again completed the SAFF campaign before reaching the final.
With the drizzling making the pitch a little slippery, the Maldives appeared more attacking in the opening minutes.
Their pressing approach forced Nepal into their own zone. Their penetration paid dividends in the ninth minute as forward Ali Fasir was brought down at the left edge of the Nepalese box and Akram Abhul Ghanee, the Maldives skipper, saw the consequential free kick loop into the far post net (1-0).
Nepal intensified their attack in pursuit of the equaliser and Bharat Khawas tried his luck with a long range drive in the 18th minute and chipped the ball over from a handshaking distance following a goalmouth melee in the 24th minute.
With the game growing hot with attacks and counterattacks, Ali Fasis was ruing his chance in the 25th minute miscuing a right footer from the top of the eight yard box.
The game saw an unusual impede just in the stroke of the half hour when the Match Commissioner stopped the proceedings due to extreme thunders. Both the teams left the pitch before the game resumed after thirty minutes break.
Nepal dominated the post resumption period of fifteen minutes launching a series of attacks but the efforts of Bimal Gharti Magar, Bharat Khawas and Nirajan Khadka all fell short. In the 40th minute, Bharat Khawas’s sliding placement turned into a corner off the gloves of Md Faisal.
Nepalese goalie Kiran Kumar Limbu kept his team in the match saving a rasping drive of Maldives forward Hasan Naiz for a corner in the 49th minute. With the Nepalese defence standing a little up, Ibrahim Hussain paved the way for Naiz with a crisp through pass from the midfield.
Nepal was frustrated again in the 61st minute with Bimal Gharti Magar’s deflected head on a volley of substitute midfielder Anjanj Bjista landed right into the hand Md Faisal and returned to the game.
Nepal kept trying and trying but still remained at the day. Sunil Bal, the hardworking midfielder, ran down the left flank in the 70th minute and unleashed a cracker from the edge of the box but saw the ball whisker past side post.
Nepal coach added Nawajug Shreshta and Bishal Rai further bolstered his attack in the last fifteen minute of the match. However, Nawajug missed to the line of a Sunil Bal cross in the 76th minute with Faisal stranded far post.
But the dying minutes appeared to be a fairytale for the Maldives as forward Ibrahim Waheed extended the lead in the 84th minute when he hit the back of the net after Nepalese defender Dinesh Rajbanshi cleared a Asadulla Abdulla cross in the middle of box and the ball landed into the feet of unmarked Ibrhaim who beat Kiron in the near post (2-0).
Two minutes later, Ibrahim added his second goal off a counterattack placing the ball into the far post (3-0).
Dhaka, Sept 12 (UNB) – Middle East nation Bahrain arrived here on Wednesday morning as the first foreign team to play the Group F matches of the AFC U-16 Women’s Championship beginning on September 15 at Bir Shreshta Shaheed Sepoy Mohammad Mostafa Kamal Stadium in Kamalapur.
Vietnam will play the United Arab Emirates in the opening match on September 15 at 11:30 am while Lebanon will face Bahrain at 3:30 pm in the other opening day’s fixture.
Hosts Bangladesh, which were placed in Group F of the AFC U-16 Women’s Championship along with the UAE, Vietnam, Bahrain and Lebanon, will play their first match against Bahrain on September 17 at 3:30 pm, meet Lebanon on September 19 at 11:30 am, the UAE on September 21 at 3:30 pm and face Vietnam in the last group match on September 23 at 3:30 pm.
The AFC made some changes this time in their previous format. Six group champion teams along with two best group runners-up will play in the eight-team 2nd round in two groups.
Later, four top teams of the 2nd round will play in the eight-team title deciding final round in Bangkok alongside North Korea, South Korea, Japan and hosts Thailand.
East Rutherford, Sep 12 (AP/UNB) — With Lionel Messi not on Argentina's roster, a crowd of just 35,624 turned out at MetLife Stadium to watch a 0-0 draw between La Albiceleste and Colombia on Tuesday night.
With Messi, Argentina drew three large crowds to MetLife: 78,936 for a friendly against the United States in 2011, 81,994 for an exhibition against Brazil the following year and 82,026 for the 2016 Copa America final against Chile.
Just 32,469 attended Brazil's 2-0 exhibition win last week over the United States, down from 77,223 at a 2010 U.S.-Brazil game there shortly after the venue opened. MetLife Stadium is a possible site of the 2026 World Cup final.
Madrid, Sep 12 (AP/UNB) — Luis Enrique couldn't have asked for a much better start as coach of Spain's national team. Two matches, two convincing wins against top opponents in the UEFA Nations League.
Spain followed its gritty 2-1 win against England at Wembley Stadium last week with a 6-0 rout of World Cup runner-up Croatia on Tuesday, keeping Enrique perfect since taking over as La Roja's coach.
It was the biggest defeat ever for Croatia, which was playing its first competitive game since reaching the World Cup final in Russia.
The victory left Spain comfortably ahead in Group 4 of the top-tiered League A in Europe's newest soccer competition, in good position to reach the tournament's final four in June.
In the other League A match on Tuesday, Belgium won 3-0 at Iceland in its Nations League debut.
England followed the loss to Spain with a 1-0 win in a friendly against Switzerland, which had routed Iceland 6-0 in the Nations League. Marcus Rashford scored England's winner in Leicester.
The Nations League gives UEFA's 55 member countries competitive games and eliminates often meaningless friendlies.
Luka Modric's Croatia threatened early in the southeastern Spanish city of Elche, but Spain took control of the match by scoring three goals in 11 first-half minutes.
"They had chances in the beginning but after that we were clearly superior," Enrique said. "It's difficult to find anything to criticize after a match played at this level. Our attitude has been commendable."
Saul Niguez, who is becoming an undisputable starter in Enrique's team, headed in a cross by Dani Carvajal in the 24th minute, then Marco Asensio hit two remarkable long-range shots in the 33rd and 35th to give La Roja a comfortable lead before halftime. His second strike bounced off the post and the back of goalkeeper Lovre Kalinic, who was awarded an own goal.
Asensio, who was not among the starters against England, also set up Rodrigo's goal early in the second half with a perfect through ball behind the defense.
Sergio Ramos, one of the remaining members of Spain's golden generation, added the fifth goal with a header off a corner kick in the 57th minute, and Isco closed the scoring in the 70th after another set up by Asensio.
Croatia, which lost the World Cup final to France, fell apart after defender Sime Vrsaljko had to be substituted due to an injury just minutes before Spain's first goal.
"We were very good in the first 20 minutes, we had three clear chances, but after that and Vrsaljko's injury, we vanished from the pitch," Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic said. "We were not even a shadow of the team from before."
Croatia's biggest defeat had been a 5-1 away loss against England at Wembley in 2009.
The Croats were making their Nations League debut after playing European champion Portugal to a 1-1 draw in a friendly last week.
Enrique took over Spain after the team's elimination against Russia in the round of 16 of the World Cup. Spain was coached by Fernando Hierro in Russia after Julen Lopetegui was fired two days before the tournament.
Asensio was one of the few changes Enrique made to the team that beat England on Saturday. The former Barcelona coach also added defender Jose Luis Gaya and midfielder Dani Ceballos to the starting lineup. They replaced Marcos Alonso, Thiago Alcantara and Iago Aspas.
Just like it did against England, Spain was aggressive without the ball on Tuesday, pressing high and playing a more direct game that takes the focus away from short passes, something that has become a characteristic of Enrique's team.
Belgium earned a comfortable win over Iceland thanks to a pair of goals by Romelu Lukaku and one from Eden Hazard.
Lukaku and Hazard, whose goal came off a penalty kick, were two of Belgium's top players in its third-place campaign at the World Cup.
Belgium had defeated Scotland 4-0 in a friendly last week in Glasgow.
In the second-tiered League B, Bosnia-Herzegovina followed its opening win at Northern Ireland with a 1-0 home victory against Austria, thanks to a 78th-minute goal by Edin Dzeko.
In League C, Finland edged Estonia 1-0 at home on Teemu Pukki's early goal for its second straight win. Hungary, which lost its opener to Finland, defeated Greece 2-1 in Budapest.
In League D, Luxembourg won 3-0 at San Marino for its second consecutive victory, while Moldova played a scoreless home draw with Belarus.
The Nations League guarantees at least one of Europe's low-ranked League D teams will qualify for Euro 2020 through a playoff.