Defending champions India started their seven-nation 12th SAFF Suzuki Cup 2018 campaign in style beating Sri Lanka by 2-0 goals in the opening Group B match at the country’s premier sports venue-- Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka (Bangladesh) on Wednesday.
With the day’s victory, the 7-times SAFF champions India clearly dominated the group list securing full three points from first match while Sri Lanka yet to open the account losing their opener.
In the remaining Group B matches, Sri Lanka will play the Maldives on Friday (Sept 7) at 7 pm while India will face the Maldives on Sunday (Sept 9), also at 7 pm, both at the Bangabandhu National Stadium here.
In the day’s lone match, Ashique Kuruniyan and Lallianzuala Chhangte scored for the holder India, one in each half.
India continued to put pressure from the very beginning and found the success in their fourth attempt in the 35th minute as midfielder Ashique Kuruniyan’s left footed ground shot from the right wing kissed the left corner of Sri Lankan net after carrying the ball from midfield, off a through pass of Sumit Passi (1-0).
Midfielder Lallianzuala Chhangte doubled the Indian margin in the 47th minute by a left footed shot from a difficult angle, off a Germanspreet Singh pass (2-0).
Sri Lanka saved three attempts of Indians forward Farukh Choudhary in the second half.
Choudhary’s header from the center of the box in the 88th minute, was saved in the bottom right corner, a right footed shot from outside the box was saved in the bottom left corner in the 81st minute and a left footed shot from the center of the box was saved in the center of the goal post.
India missed two opportunities in the 66th minute as Nikhil Poojari’s right footed shot from the center of the box went wide, following a corner.
Sumit Passi missed an opportunity in the very fourth minute. Passi took a right footed shot from the center of the box, receiving a cross from Ashique Kuruniyan, but his shot was saved by goalie Sujan Perera in the right corner of the post.
India kept 59 percent of ball control for the win while Sri Lanka hardly could manage chances with the ball control of 41 percent.
Sri Lanka took two successive fruitless attempts in the 17th and 18th minutes by midfielders Mohamed Rifnaz and Hewage Kavindu Ishan respectively.
Rifnaz right footed shot from more than 35 yards is close, but missed to the left from a direct freekick while H K Ishan’s right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left.
Sri Lanka brought three changes in their playing eleven as Nicholus Harsha Fernando, Asela Madushan and Sasanka Dilhara Jayasekara came in replacing injured Subash Madushan, Afeel Mohamed and Sajith Kumara Mendis respectively.
India brought changes in the second half with calling Nikhil Poojari, Manvir Singh and Vinit Rai to replace Ashique Kuruniyan, Sumit Passi and Anirudh Thapa respectively.
Corners: India got 12 corners while Sri Lanka one.
Yellow Cards: Hewage Kavindu Ishan, Sujan Perera, Ashikur Rahman, Anuruddha Warakagoda[Sri Lanka]. Sarthak Golui, Ashique Kuruniyan [India].