Matchday 2 of the Hero Gold Cup got off to a great start, with Myanmar beating IR Iran with the help of two late goals. Following them were India and Nepal, knowing that a win for the former would seal the two final spots. However, little did they know that Nepal had a surprise planned for them.
India kicked off their home tournament in grand fashion last week when they beat IR Iran by one goal to nil. Neighbours Nepal, meanwhile, suffered from an extremely different outcome as they were thrashed three-nil by Myanmar.
As a result, both the teams needed three points for very different reasons: India to make it to the final while Nepal to stay in the competition.
The match began with India the heavy favourites. The home side were up against the lowest-ranked side of the competition and were coming on the back of a big win. However, things turned south quickly as Nepal took an early lead in just five minutes.
Forward Sabitra latched on to a through ball, before cutting inside and unleashing the shot. Indian custodian Aditi Chauhan got down quickly and put a firm hand to the ball. However, her save put plenty of backspin on the ball, which allowed it to sneak in for the opener.
There was little Chauhan could have done to prevent Nepal’s opening goal. However, the Indian custodian was majorly at fault for the second goal of the match, which came two minutes after the first.
A timid cross from the right-hand side looked to be heading safely towards Chauhan’s hands. Instead, it sneaked under her legs, allowing Sabitra to tap into an empty net.
From there on, Nepal held firmly against an Indian onslaught. They were finally broken in the eighty-second minute when Ratanbala Devi scored from a freekick. Nevertheless, it turned out to be too little too late for India, who now find themselves in danger of missing out on the final.
India will now face Myanmar in their third and final group game of the Hero Gold Cup, while Nepal will go up against Iran.
(Image Credits: Indian Football, Twiter)