Defending champions India made a winning start to their campaign by thrashing Pakistan 3-0 in the SAIF Women’s Championship at the Dashrath Stadium in Kathmandu on Wednesday. The win extended India’s unbeaten 27 matches in the championship. A goal from rival captain Maria Jameel Khan and an opportunistic strike from Dangmei Grace in the first half effectively settled the issue in India’s favour. A late goal from Soumya Gaguloth completed the route in extra time.
The Blue Tigress dominated almost the entire time, not much inclined to break away from the ball. He liked to spread it through the flanks, and Anu Tamang was omnipresent in the middle, essaying it in front of the strikers with his defense splitting passes.
However, despite the dominance, India’s first goal in the 15th minute was lucky – an own goal by rival captain Maria Jameela Khan.
Sandhya, working down the left side, sent in a cross, which goalkeeper Syeda Mahapara Shahid Bukhari managed to get a hand on while diving to her left. The rebound hit Maria’s leg and rolled into the net.
The second goal, however, came straight off the drawing board. Collecting the ball just outside the box, Anju, stuck in the middle of a jungle of legs, sets it with her left foot for an unmarked Dangmei Grace.
Grateful, Grace receives it, and slides it between Syeda and the near post to give India a 2-0 lead.
India came close to scoring another goal in the 29th minute, but still hit the post when Ranjana’s left foot hit Sayeda from under the bar.
India made a change and got their first corner in the 55th minute. Outside the counter, Pakistan earned a free-kick outside the Indian box, but Indian goalkeeper Aditi Chauhan collected Maria’s shot effortlessly.
With strong pressure from the Indians, Pakistan was not able to break the chains and attack. Instead, they preferred to stay behind and defend, with Zulfia Nazir waiting around the center circle.
But the Blue Tigresses weren’t much able to make use of the series of corners they earned throughout the round.
In the 74th minute, Sandhya removed her marker and placed Anju to crack the goal. But the rival defense recovered swiftly, refusing to see Anju.
Four minutes later, Anju was quick to reach for the ball over Maria inside the box. But his left foot snap missed the target.
Soumya made it 3-0 in extra time, medically eliminating Ranjana’s cross to the left. India will next face Maldives on 10 September.
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