Defending champions India needed three second half goals to overcome a spirited Sri Lanka to qualify for the semifinals of the 2011 SAFF Cup. But the win wasn't enough to top Group A then in the day's other match Afghanistan trounced Bhutan 8-1 to finish with a better goal difference then India as both finished on seven points. Now old rivals the Maldives wait in the semifinals on Friday.
India went into the match knowing that a draw would be enough to seal qualification, while Sri Lanka needed an upset win to progress. But both teams made a slow start into the game, both taking a wait-and-watch approach. This resulted in a lot of midfield action and often meaningless long balls forward which both defences dealt easily with.
Things changed after the break as India took a 50th minute lead through an alert Jeje Lalpekhlua, who scored from a rebound after the Lankan keeper had blocked a Sunil Chhetri shot. Chhetri himself doubled the lead in the 69th minute of a nicely placed header. In the final seconds of the game Sri Lanka's Bandara Warakagoda scored an own goal following a corner to make it 3-0 on the night for India.
Finishing second in Group A India now face Group B winners the Maldives in the first semifinal on Friday, December 9. A rematch of the 2009 SAFF Cup final in Dhaka, which the India Under-23s had won on penalties.
1-Karanjit Singh; 4-Nirmal Chetri, 14-Mahesh Gawli, 19-Gouramangi Moirangthem Singh, 22-Syed Rahim Nabi; 12-Anthony Pereira (79' 23-Steven Benedic Dias), 8-Climax Lawrence [C], 21-Rocus Lamare (71' 28-Jewel Raja Sheikh), 15-Clifford Miranda; 10-Jeje Lalpekhlua (83' 18-Sushil Kumar Singh), 11-Sunil Chhetri