Four-time defending champions India stormed into the final of the SAFF Women's football championship with a resounding 4-0 win over Bangladesh in Biratnagar in Nepal on Wednesday.
Dalima Chhibber opened the scoring for India, which was followed by a brace from Indumathi Kathiresan and an injury-time strike by Manisha as the defending champions took their tally to 15 goals in three matches in the tournament at the Sahid Rangashala Stadium.
The match began with both teams going hard from the first whistle as Bangladesh looked to make the most of their physical prowess and pressed the Indian defenders with rigorous pace.
The Indian centre-back duo of Ashalata and Sweety Devi, however, stood tall and denied the opposition forwards any sniff at goal.
After a tense start, the Indians found their foothold and in the 18th minute, Sanju curled in an excellent delivery from the left that fell to Dalima inside the box and the right-back made no mistake as she placed the ball into the back of the net.
The tempo of the match went up a notch after the opener, with both sides creating good scoring chances.
Bangladesh centre-back Mosammat Khatun skied an effort from close range while Sanju was denied by the rival custodian in a one-on-one situation in quick succession.
India scored their second goal in the 23rd minute through midfielder Indumathi, who showed excellent composure to slot the ball past the keeper after being played through with a delightful reverse through-ball from Sanju.
Bangladesh then looked to hit back, trying their luck from distance, only to be denied by a confident Aditi Chauhan in goal.
India, who scored 11 goals in their first two matches of the tournament, showed their prowess with a classic counter-attack goal in the 37th minute to triple their lead.
Dalima played the ball out from the right after an attack from Bangladesh and in no time, Sanju and Sandhiya combined well to put through Indumathi once again, who found the net with a well-placed finish for her second strike of the day and the third for the side.
After the change of ends, it was India that started out stronger and controlled most of the possession.
Sanju and Dangmei Grace were a handful for the Bangladesh defence down the flanks and it was the latter who came close to scoring at the hour mark but saw her shot sail past across the goal.
Coach Maymol Rocky brought on Anju Tamang and Manisha in place of Ratanbala Devi and Grace respectively, and both substitutes produced impactful performances as soon as they came on.
In the dying minutes of the game, Manisha pounced on a loose ball inside the box, rounded the keeper and scored her first goal of the tournament to make the scoreline 4-0 in favour of India.
India will take on hosts Nepal in the summit clash on Friday.
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