SAFF Championship: India off to winning start

Robin's twin strikes help Constantine's men beat Sri Lanka

SAFF Championship: India off to winning start
India kicked off their campaign in the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Championships on a positive note, recording an easy 2-0 victory over Sri Lanka with striker Robin Singh scoring twice here on Friday.

Robin found the back of the net on the 51st and 73rd minutes to ensure full points for the hosts at the Trivandrum International Stadium.

Coming off a poor outing in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign, the six-time champions came up with an improved performance from what had been witnessed from them in the recent past against tougher teams.

The 25-year-old Robin gave the hosts lead when he netted six minutes into the second half.

The spadework was done by the experienced Sunil Chhetri as he moved down the left flank before playing it to an unmarked Robin, who converted with a powerful left-footed strike.

Their confidence boosted after taking the lead, India doubled the lead a little later. Chhetri’s header sent Robin through on the goal, and he left the Lankans clueless, getting past Wijesiri and Alawadeen to find the mark.

Before that, Sanju Pradhan found an unmarked Jeje Lalpekhlua just a few yards from the goal. His header was on target, but the keeper pulled off a brilliant save to deny the home team.
Earlier, Sri Lanka, making five changes to the squad that defeated Nepal 1-0 in the opener, frustrated the Indians in the first half. India made several attacking moves but could not penetrate the Lankan defence.

Chettri was denied by Sujan Perera in the sixth minute and the Lankan goalkeeper then came off the line to thwart an attempt by Jeje after he was set up by Eugeneson Lyngdoh. India stepped up the pressure in the second half and were rewarded with two goals from Robin.

However, the Delhi Dynamos striker suffered an injury and had to be stretchered off, delivering another blow to India who are already missing several key players due to injuries.

India next play Nepal on Sunday. On Saturday, Bangladesh play Maldives and Bhutan take on Afghanistan, both in Group B.

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