Ashique Kuruniyan and Lalianzuala Chhangte scored on both sides of the half as the defending champions of India defeated Sri Lanka comfortably 2-0 in their first match of the SAFF Cup soccer tournament on Wednesday. India started the game at a high pace and Ashique showed his intention in a couple of minutes when he hit the first attack from the left flank. India, which ranked the youngest team in the competition, made repeated inroads but the islanders kept them at bay until the 36th minute when Ashique swiftly passed his marker and passed it over an archer for his first international goal.
India was about to double the lead several times, but for the lack of Chhangte and a series of acrobatic saves by the Sri Lanka goalkeeper. After the change of points, India scored in a couple of minutes. The trajectory of Chhangte's cross from the wide left was misinterpreted by the Sri Lankan goalkeeper and gave India a 2-0 lead.
Chhangte, at that time, had changed sides and seemed more effective on the left, the islanders had a torrid moment to keep it under control. Nikhil Poojary, who suffered an injury-related injury all season, was introduced after the game hour and tried his luck on the corner of Aniruddh Thapa's corner, but went over the crossbar. Farukh Chowdhury and substitute Manvir Singh also had their chances but could not collect despite staying in vantage points.
First, Farukh's shot hit the horizontal in the 75th minute and Manvir could not connect the rebound, which would have been a safe third goal. India will now face the Maldives in their next group league match on Sunday.
India: Vishal Kaith; Sarthak Golui, Sajid Dhot, Salam Ranjan Singh, Subhasish Bose (C); Lallianzuala Chhangte, Germanpreet Singh, Anirudh Thapa (Vinit Rai 78th), Ashique Kuruniyan (Nikhil Poojary 57th), Farukh Choudhary, Sumeet Passi (Manvir Singh 70th).