THIMPU: India U-18 kept their SAFF U-18 Championship hopes alive with 2-1 win over Maldives at the Changlimithang Stadium in Thimpu, Bhutan today.

India struck twice through Rebello Princeton (38′) and Abhishek Halder (42′) to make Ahmed Tholal’s opener (25′) count little.

India started the game as favorites to win three points but Maldives didn’t make it easy for them. Maldives took the lead in the 25th minute of the first half when forward Ahmed Tholal was gifted with easy goal as Indian skipper Sahil Panwar failed to clear the ball.

Having conceded early on, India began attacking with intensity and Princeton gave equalizer in the 38th minute. The second goal came in quick succession when Abhisek’s brilliant individual skill gave India the much deserved lead. It was thunderous strike from the defender to score his first in the tournament.

The game slowed down considerably. It was also strewn with miss passes and frequent stoppages of play due to injury and the ball going outside. Lalengzama shot wide while Edmund Lalrindika’s attempt went over the bar as clear chances became far and few.

The dying minutes saw Maldives making a comeback with goalkeeper Aditya Patra being forced into making a brilliant save to keep the score line intact and keep India’s hopes in the tournament alive.

India’s next and final match of the SAFF U-18 Championship is against Nepal on September 27.

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