A dominant India defeated Bangladesh 3-1 to win their fourth consecutive SAFF Women’s Football Championship title at the Kanchenjunga Stadium, here on Wednesday.
The Indian eves, in the process, are now unbeaten in 19 matches having won 18 and drawn one.
India’s first goal came in the 12th minute through striker Dangmei Grace, who got a slight touch and the ball slowly rolled into the empty net with rival goalkeeper Sabina Akhtar caught in a dilemma.
It set the tone for the match. The match being a final meant that Bangladesh had to shrug off their defensive aspirations and that allowed India the width and space.
In the first 20 minutes, India had earned four corners and every time Bala Devi touched the ball, she created something out of nothing. In fact, Kamala Devi should have doubled the lead in the 17th minute when Bala set her a free-header, but it narrowly sailed out.
However, Bangladesh withstood the storm, regrouped, and eventually equalised in the 40th minute through Sirat Jahan Shopna as both teams headed into the interval locked at 1-1.
After the change of ends, India were again faster off the blocks. The hosts pressed high and hard even as Bangladesh depended mostly on counter-attacks.
The break came in the 60th minute when the irrepressible Bala was pushed inside the box as the referee pointed to the spot and 2016 AIFF Player of the Year, Sasmita Malik gleefully converted the opportunity.
With just 30 minutes remaining, it was quite a task for Bangladesh to come back and it went worse for them seven minutes later when goalkeeper Sabina, who was having a decent game till then, misjudged the bounce of a harmless Indumathi shot from long and it rolled in.
The Indians did go all out but their perseverance failed to yield any more goals.