Striker Gurkeerat Singh scored four goals as India beat Bangladesh 5-2 in the final to win the SAFF U-20 Championship trophy in Bhubaneswar on Friday. Both the teams were locked 1–1 at intervals and 2–2 after the completion of regulation time. Gurkeerat scored in the 1st, 60th, 94th and 99th minutes while Himanshu Jangra scored another goal in the 92nd minute. For Bangladesh, Rajon Hawladar and Shaheen Mia scored in the 44th and 48th minutes respectively at the Kalinga Stadium.
Drama unfolded just after kick-off as India were awarded a penalty within 20 seconds. Himanshu collected a long pass from the right, removed his marker and deflected a long ranger, which rival goalkeeper Mohammad Asif managed to stop diving to his right.
Gurkeerat, lurking around, was quick to react to the rebound. Asif, in his desperate attempt to keep Gurkeerat away, brought the Indian striker down inside the box. Gurkeerat gleefully bounced back from the spot to give India an early lead.
Should have doubled the lead in the 32nd minute which was the easiest of the half. But Gurkeerat failed to make it to the house. Taisan Singh also missed a chance in the 43rd minute.
The curse of a missing chance hit India hard as Bangladesh bounced off the net with a shot from Rajon Havaladar at the stroke of half-time.
Bangladesh in turn took the lead in three minutes. Amandeep misjudges his clearance with a harmless free-kick and it falls to Shine Mia, whose shot hits the post and rolls off.
India’s first substitution came in the 57th minute – Tankhadhar Bagh was coming for Mahesan Singh – and a series of opportunities fell India’s way after that. The equalizer came within three minutes when Gurkeerat fell a clearance just outside the box and hit his right foot this time in the 60th minute.
Himanshu had another chance in the 63rd minute but Asif cleared the threat for Bangladesh.
Four minutes later, Himanshu’s placement in front of Asif was a bit weak, allowing Azizul Haque to score. Asif was also very active when he dived to clean the curling center of Bikash Yumnam.
Head coach Shanmugam Venkatesh brought in Harsh Patre in place of Taisan Singh and India took the lead in the second minute of extra time (92nd).
Himanshu followed Harsh Patre’s entertaining defense splitting pass and finished with the left foot for the first time.
Gurkeerat completed his hat-trick in the 94th minute in which Himanshu became the player this time.
India’s fifth goal came in the 99th minute when Gurkeerat hit another screamer. He overtook some defenders and blasted it home from about 30 yards.
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