New Delhi: Belal Arezou scored tournament's first hat-trict by pumping in four goals as Afghanistan routed a hapless Bhutan 8-1 to book their maiden semifinal berth in the SAFF Championships here on Wednesday.

Arezou scored in the 16th, 18th, 45th and 83rd minutes after Mohammad Yamrali (4th) and Haroon Fakruddin (10th) had given Afghanistan early lead.

Djelaluddin Shrityar (48th) and Yousef Mashriqi (60th) completed the tally for Afghanistan in their last Group A match at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

Bhutan, who have already crashed out of the tournament after losing 0-3 to Sri Lanka and 0-5 to India, scored the consolation goal through Chencho Gyeltshen in the 22nd minute, their only goal of the tournament.

Arezou now has five goals to his name in the competition to lead the goalscoring charts.

Bhutan coach Hiroaki Matsuyama persisted with goalkeeper Mon Bdr Bhattrai in spite of having let in five goals in the previous match against India.

Afghanistan made one change with Ahmad Waheed, who missed a couple of decent chances against Sri Lanka, being left out for Ghulam Hoddein.

It took just four minutes for Afghanistan to take the lead as Ata Yamir Ali scored the quickest goal in this edition of SAFF Championship after the Bhutan custodian punched away a Mohammad Esrafil free-kick.

Six minutes later, Bhattrai punched a Mohammed Esrafil free-kick and before he could collect it, Haroon Fakhruddin headed home to make it 2-0 for Afghanistan.

Arezou got his name on the scoresheet as he went past a couple of defenders and placed the ball to the right of the Bhutan goalkeeper in the 16th minute.

Thereafter, it was Bhutan who scored through Chencho Gyeltshen who cut past two Afghan defenders before sending the ball into the net.

Just before the half-time, Arezou beat the offside trap and slotted home from inside the box.

Things went from bad to worse for Bhutan as skipper Sangay Khandu got his second yellow card and was given marching orders by referee Nivon Robesh. Djelaludin Sharityar scored from the spot leaving the goalkeeper flummoxed.

Yousef Mashriqi scored from a zero angle before Arezou scored his fourth goal of the match after some brilliant work by Mohammad Esrafil.

(Agencies)