“India vs Pakistan Highlights, SAFF Championship: Sunil Chhetri’s Hat-trick Leads India to Dominant 4-0 Victory”

India showcased their dominance and skill as they defeated Pakistan with a resounding 4-0 victory in their opening match of the SAFF Championship held at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru. The match saw Indian captain Sunil Chhetri shine with a remarkable hat-trick, taking his international goal tally to an impressive 90. The victory marked a memorable return to Bengaluru for the Blue Tigers after a six-year hiatus.

The game started with high intensity, and it didn’t take long for Chhetri to make his mark. In the 10th minute, he capitalized on a mistake by Pakistan goalkeeper Saqib Hanif, slotting the ball into an empty net. Just five minutes later, Sahal Abdul Samad exhibited his quick footwork to navigate past defenders and set up Anirudh Thapa, whose shot was blocked by a Pakistan defender’s hand. Chhetri calmly converted the resulting penalty, extending India’s lead to two goals.

Throughout the match, India continued to apply pressure and create chances. Lallianzuala Chhangte and Sahal came close to scoring, but their efforts were saved or narrowly missed the target. Chhetri, displaying his versatility, even attempted a free-kick from outside the box, narrowly missing the near post. Despite the heavy rain that intensified during half-time, the enthusiastic crowd at the Kanteerava Stadium remained loud and supportive.

The second half witnessed Chhetri’s relentless pursuit of goals. In the 73rd minute, he was fouled in the box, earning himself another penalty, which he expertly dispatched into the top-left corner, securing his hat-trick and delighting the Bengaluru crowd. India’s dominance didn’t end there, as substitute Udanta Singh got in on the action, scoring India’s fourth goal in the 81st minute. Anwar Ali provided an excellent assist with a well-placed through ball, allowing Udanta to calmly slot it past the keeper.

The victory over Pakistan holds historical significance for India, as it ranks among their biggest wins against their arch-rivals. The last time India defeated Pakistan with such a margin was in the 1999 SAF Games, when they emerged victorious with a scoreline of 5-2, with IM Vijayan scoring a hat-trick. Chhetri now joins the elite company of Puran Bahadur and IM Vijayan as the third Indian to achieve a hat-trick against Pakistan.

After the match, Chhetri expressed his happiness with the team’s performance, especially considering the challenging rainy conditions. He also praised the fans for their tremendous support throughout the game. The win puts India at the top of Group A standings, tied with Kuwait but leading on goal difference, after the completion of the first matchday.

India will now prepare to face Nepal in their second Group A match on Saturday, 24th June. With their emphatic victory over Pakistan, the Indian team will aim to maintain their winning momentum and secure another crucial three points as they progress in their SAFF Championship title defense.

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