Hero Women's Gold Cup: Sabitra Bhandari steers Nepal to maiden win over India

KATHMANDU: After suffering a thumping defeat against Myanmar, Nepali team bounced back in style, as they romped to a 2-1 win over India and revived their hopes of qualifying for the final of the Hero Women's Gold Cup in Bhubaneshwar today.

With the first-ever victory over India, Nepal moved to the second position with three points behind Myanmar who have collected six points after back-to-back wins against Nepal and Iran.

Sabitra Bhandari stunned the hosts with two goals within a space of three minutes inside the opening ten minutes of play at the Kalinga Stadium. Bhandari put Nepal ahead in the fifth minute when she found the back of the nests despite Indian goalkeeper Aditi Chauhan getting a hand to it.

Two minutes later, the Nepali striker doubled the lead against the neighbour. An absolute howler from Chauhan, who let a tame shot roll between her legs, allowing Sabitra to tap into an unguarded net.

After conceding two goals, the hosts pressed hard to find goals but the Nepali rearguard stood firm and thwarted Indian moves with ease in the dying minutes of the first half.

In the second half, the Indian team came out all guns blazing but failed to muster goal-scoring opportunities against the composed Nepali team despite home supporters behind them.

Sabitra almost grabbed her hat-trick in the 71st minute but a last-ditch challenge from defenders stopped her from scoring past Indian custodian Chauhan.

Ratanbala Devi brought India back into the game seven minutes before time but her goal turned out to be the consolation one.

Earlier, Nepal had faced 3-0 drubbing against Myanmar who today defeated Iran 2-0 and secured a place in the final of the tournament. Nepal will now play against Iran in the last group game on Wednesday to decide for a place in the final to be held on February 15.

Likewise, the hosts who beat Iran 1-0 in their previous game will take on the inform Myanmar team in the last fixture. The top two teams will qualify for the final.

Nepali striker Sabitri Bhandari celebrates after scoring her brace against India. Courtesy: ANFA
Nepali striker Sabitri Bhandari celebrates after scoring her brace against India. Courtesy: ANFA