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Chhangte Lallianzuala breaks Bhaichung Bhutia's record

Eighteen-year-old scores brace as India beat Nepal 4-1 to storm into SAFF semis; Bhutia first scored in 1995 Nehru Cup at the age of 19

Thiruvananthapuram: Eighteen-year-old Chhangte Lallianzuala became the youngest goal scorer for India as the hosts bounced back from a goal down to beat Nepal 4-1 in their final group match, advancing to the semifinal of the South Asian Football Federation Cup yesterday.

Eighteen-year-old Chhangte Lallianzuala climbs atop skipper Sunil Chhetri (jersey No 11) to celebrate one of India's goals against Nepal in the SAFF Cup at Thiruvananthapuram yesterday
Eighteen-year-old Chhangte Lallianzuala climbs atop skipper Sunil Chhetri (jersey No 11) to celebrate one of India's goals against Nepal in the SAFF Cup at Thiruvananthapuram yesterday

Baichung Bhutia, who scored against Uzbekistan in the 1995 Nehru Cup as a 19-year-old, was the youngest Indian to score an international goal before Chhangte. Apart from India, Sri Lanka is the other side from the Group A to qualify for the last-four stage.

India unbeaten
India remained unbeaten in their group engagements, having beaten Sri Lanka 2-0 in the opening fixture. Lallianzuala's (81st, 90th minute) twin strikes came in the final 10 minutes of the match after Rowlin Borges (26th minute) and skipper Sunil Chhetri found the target for India.

However, India were in for a shock when Nepal took the lead as early as in the third minute of the match through Bimal Magar's strike. Contrary to the result, it was Nepal which started on a positive note as Magar handed his side the lead in the third minute.

Rohit Chand's ball forward saw Nawayug Shrestha get beyond Augustin Fernandes. Shrestha's shot comes off the far post and lands in front of Magar who slotted the rebound into an empty net to stun the Indians.

An Indian player (in blue) rises to head the ball ahead of a Nepal (in red) during their their SAFF encounter in Thiruvananthapuram yesterday. India won 4-1. Pic/PTI
An Indian player (in blue) rises to head the ball ahead of a Nepal (in red) during their their SAFF encounter in Thiruvananthapuram yesterday. India won 4-1. Pic/PTI

In the 14th minute Magar had a another shot on target but a feeble one. In the first 16 minutes, Nepal were the dominant side on display as they had four shots on target against none by India.

Anjan Bisht then had a shot on target from range but it was easily collected by Subrata Paul in front of Indian goal. It took India 20 minutes to get their first shot at the goal through Holicharan Narzary, whose try from outside the box went straight into the hands of Nepal goalie Kiran Chemzong.

In the next minute, Sanju Pradhan's shot went just inches wide. But India drew level in the 26th minute when Borges scored from a set piece. Narayan Das' free-kick from the left bounces inside the box and found Borges who lashed it in to score the equaliser. The two teams went into the breather locked at 1-1.

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