Striker Gurkirat Singh scored four goals as India beat Bangladesh 5-2 in extra time in the final to lift the SAFF U-20 Championship trophy in Bhubaneswar on Friday. Both teams were locked 1-1 at the interval, and 2-2 after completion of regulation time. Gurkirat scored in the first, 60th, 94th and the 99th minutes respectively, while Himanshu Jangra added another one in the 92nd minute. For Bangladesh, Rajon Howladar and Shahin Mia scored in the 44th and 48th minutes respectively at the Kalinga Stadium.
Drama unfolded right after kick-off as India were awarded a penalty within 20 seconds. Himanshu collected a long pass from the right, sidestepped his marker and unleashed a long ranger which rival goalkeeper Md. Asif managed to block diving low to his right.
Gurkirat, lurking around, was faster to react to the rebound. Asif, in his desperate attempt to keep Gurkirat off, brought the Indian striker down inside the box. Gurkirat gleefully converted from the spot to put India into an early lead.
The lead should have been doubled in the 32nd minute in what was the easiest chance of the half. But Gurkirat failed to slot home. Taison Singh also missed a chance in the 43rd minute.
The curse of missing chances hit India hard as Bangladesh restored parity at the stroke of half time with Rajon Howladar’s shot bulging the net.
Changing over, Bangladesh took the lead within three minutes. Amandeep mistimed his clearance off a harmless free-kick and it fell to Shain Mia whose shot hit the post, and rolled in.
The first substitution for India came in the 57th minute – Tankadhar Bag coming in for Maheson Singh – and a series of chances fell India’s way thereafter. The equaliser came within three minutes when a clearance fell to Gurkirat just outside the box and he banged it in, this time with his right foot in the 60th minute.
In the 63rd minute, Himanshu had another chance but an onrushing Asif cleared the danger for Bangladesh.
Four minutes later, Himanshu’s placement past Asif was a bit feeble, allowing Azizul Haque to make a goal line clearance. Asif was also in the thick of action when he dived to clear Bikash Yumnam’s curling centre.
Head coach Shanmugam Venkatesh brought in Harsh Patre in place of Taison Singh and India took the lead in the second minute of extra-time (92nd minute).
Himanshu followed up a Harsh Patre delectable defence splitting pass and came up with a first-time left-footed finish.
Gurkirat completed his hat-trick in the 94th minute with Himanshu turning the provider this time.
The fifth goal for India came in the 99th minute as Gurkirat scored off another screamer. He turned past a couple of defenders and blasted it home from around 30 yards.
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