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India Win 8th SAFF Championship, Sunil Chhetri Equals Lionel Messi’s Record

India beat Nepal to win 8th SAFF Championship title, skipper Sunil Chhetri equals Lionel Messi's 80 goal record.

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India crushed Nepal 3-0 to win their eighth SAFF Championship title on Saturday. India extended their domination in the regional tournament all thanks to goals from Chhetri, Suresh Singh and Sahal Abdul Samad. Chhetri scored in the 49th minute of the match, which put him level with Lionel Messi. Sunil Chhetri equalled the iconic Lionel Messi with his 80th international strike.

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Sunil Chhetri was playing in his 121st match for India. He struck in the 27th minute to place himself just a goal shy of legendary Brazillian Pele (77 goals from 92 matches). A present Chhetri now stands in the fourth spot in the list of highest scorers among active footballers. He is behind Cristiano Ronaldo (111), Lionel Messi (79) and Iraq’s Ali Mabkhout (77).

India dominated possession in the first half but failed to break the deadlock. However, Chhetri put India ahead minutes into the second half. Suresh Singh and Sahal Abdul Samad also helped India clinch the title once again.

This is the Indian football team’s first title triumph under head coach Igor Stimac. Stimac’s players delivered the results when it mattered the most. Stimac is the third foreign coach after Jiri Pesek (1993) and Stephen Constantine (2015). This is to clinch the title with the Indian team.

Following their record-time eighth SAFF Championship victory, the Blue Tigers will now gear up for the AFC Asian Cup 2021 qualifying third round that is scheduled to kick off next year.

Also Read: Sunil Chetri, Kamala Devi win 2017 AIFF Players of the Year

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