New Delhi: Striker Sunil Chhetri and Clifford Miranda scored two goals each as a rampaging India drubbed Bhutan 5-0 in their second league match to keep their semifinals hopes alive in the SAFF Championships on Monday. (Agencies)
Chhetri scored in the 69th and 84th minutes while Miranda struck in the 44th and 58th minutes after Syed Rahim Nabi (29th) had given India the lead.
With the win on Monday, India topped Group A with four points and they need a draw in their last group match against Sri Lanka on Wednesday to make it to the semifinals.
Bhutan, on the other hand, crashed out of the tournament after their second straight defeat. They had lost 0-3 to Sri Lanka in their campaign opener on Saturday.
With 1000-odd spectators turning up for the match at the floodlit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, it was the home side who had most of the ball possession with Bhutan never having a shy at the Indian goal in the whole of 90 minutes.
The home side could have won by a bigger margin but for three disallowed goals in the first half. Twice, it was left back Nabi who was ruled off-side while on one occasion it was Chhetri.
Ironically, it was Nabi who gave Indian the lead as he headed in a Miranda corner in the 29th minute. A minute before, Nabi was ruled offside after Chhetri had sent ball home with a right footer.
India, who began the match with two changes from their previous match against Afghanistan with Nirmal Chhetri coming in place of injured Samir Naik and Anthony Pereira replacing Steven Dias, were on the rampage from the beginning and Chhetri wasted two chances early on.
In the third minute, Chhetri could not hold the ball after being sent in the clear inside the rival box by Gouramangi Singh from the centre line.
Five minutes later, Chhetri headed over the bar while connecting a Nabi header off a Miranda corner.
Jeje Lalpekhlua was the culprit in the 14th minute as he shot wide after he got the better of two defenders.
India took the 2-0 cushion with Miranda firing in a left footer into Bhutanese goal one minute before the breather.
The second half was no different as it was again a one-way traffic with India pressing for more goals while also bringing in fresh legs.
Indian coach Savio Medeira made three changes in the second half with Joaquim Abranches coming in place of Jeje in the 63rd minute, Jewel Raja replacing captain Climax Lawrence in the 65th minute while Lalrindika Ralte coming in place of Miranda in the 76th minute.
In the 53rd minute, Nabi made a solo run from the left side of the centre but his shot from a close angle was blocked by Bhutanese goalkeeper Mon Badr Bhattarai.
Five minutes later, Miranda gave India 3-0 lead with a fierce right footer from near the centre of the circle.
Chhetri, who had just returned from a five-day stint at the Scottish side Glasgow Rangers, then opened his account in the tournament in the 69th minute.
He scored with a left-footed volley from a Miranda cross from the left which went in after thudding the inside of the bar.
The Delhi striker then scored his second goal six minutes from regulation time with a right-footer from just outside the box to complete the rout.
New Delhi: Striker Sunil Chhetri and Clifford Miranda scored two goals each as a rampaging India drubbed Bhutan 5-0 in their second league match to keep their semifinals hopes alive in the SAFF Championships on Monday.