Sunil Chhetri’s hat-trick powered India to a 4-0 win over Pakistan in their SAFF Championship opener in Bangalore on Wednesday as the talisman became the second-highest Asian goalscorer in international football.
Ali Daei of Iran holds the record with 109 goals from 149 matches. Chhetri has 90 strikes to his name.
However, the first half ended on a rather disappointing note for India despite a 2-0 lead. An unnecessary attempt to impede a Pakistan player from taking the throw-in by coach Igor Stimac resulted in him slapped with a red card.
India coach Igor Stimac (right) is seen interfering and stopping Pakistan player Abdullah Iqbal’s throw-in. Twitter
From the beginning of the match India brought forth their experience and class into play. Pakistan had pockets of doughty resistance, but they were no a match to India’s cohesion and purpose on a rain-drenched night at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium.
Chhetri had shown sparks of his ebullient self in the Intercontinental Cup final against Lebanon at Odisha on Sunday, and the India skipper stepped on the pedal on his ‘home turf’.
After getting a quick feel of the surface, India started the goal rush as early as in the 10th minute through Chhetri, who netted through a fine field goal.
Lebanon vs Bangladesh (3.30pm)
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