Striker Gurkirat Singh scored four goals as India defeated Bangladesh 5-2 in extra time in the final to win the SAFF U-20 Championship trophy in Bhubaneswar on Friday. Both teams were 1-1 at halftime and 2-2 after regulation time. Gurkirat scored in the first, 60th, 94th and 99th minute respectively, while Himanshu Jangra added another in the 92nd minute. For Bangladesh, Rajon Howladar and Shahin Mia scored in the 44th and 48th minute respectively at Kalinga Stadium.
The drama unfolded right after kick-off when India was awarded a penalty within 20 seconds. Himanshu collected a long pass from the right, dodged his marker and unleashed a long ranger who beat rival goalkeeper Md. Asif managed to block diving low to his right.
Gurkirat, who was lurking, reacted more quickly to the rebound. Asif, in his desperate attempt to hold off Gurkirat, brought the Indian striker into the penalty area. Gurkirat cheerfully converted from the spot to give India 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 go home. Taison Singh also missed an opportunity in the 43rd minute.
The curse of missed opportunities hit India hard as Bangladesh restored equality just before half-time with a shot from Rajon Howladar that bulged out of the net.
After the substitution, Bangladesh took the lead within three minutes. Amandeep mistimed his distance from an innocent 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 came in for Maheson Singh – and then a series of chances fell for India. The equalizing goal came within three minutes when a clearance fell for Gurkirat just outside the penalty area and he blasted 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 weak, allowing Azizul Haque to clear a goal line. Asif was also in the thick of it when he dove to clear Bikash Yumnam’s curling center.
Head coach Shanmugam Venkatesh replaced Harsh Patre for Taison Singh and India took the lead in the second minute of extra time (92nd minute).
Himanshu followed a ravishingly ravishing defensive pass from Hard Patre and delivered a first left-footed finish.
Gurkirat completed his hat-trick in the 94th minute, with Himanshu being the provider this time.
India’s fifth goal came in the 99th minute when Gurkirat scored another screamer. He spun past a pair of defenders and shot it from about 100 feet home.
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