Sri Lanka’s defense once again fell asleep, this time in the latter stages, as Nepal punished their mistakes to win 4-0 in the semi-final of the 5th SAFF Women’s Championship 2019 played at the Sahid Rangshala Stadium Biratnagar, Nepal.
If not for Ayomi Wijerathna’s heroics between the posts Sri Lanka would have…
Sri Lanka came into the semi-final after finishing 2nd in group B, beating Maldives 2-0 and losing to India 5-0. Nepal topped group A beating Bhutan and Bangladesh 3-0 each.
From the start it was clear that the Sri Lanka women were set to defend against the superior Nepal women, who dominated possession and territory throughout the match.
Anita Basnet and Sabitra Bhandari both had chances early on, but one went over the crossbar and the other was hit straight at Ayomi Wijerathna in goal. The hosts rarely had any sight on goal and when they did it was from range with either an easy collection for Ayomi or away from the target.
Nepal’s best chance came in the 34th minute when Gita Rana found herself unmarked inside the box from a corner, but her header was straight to the ground and Ayomi was able to collect it.
Just minutes later Dilasha Dias released skipper Erandi Liyanage with a wonderful ball over the backline but under pressure from the defense she was not able to control and the onrushing Anjila Subba smothered the ball.
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With a couple of minutes left for half time a deep free-kick paved the way for the opening goal. Rana’s delivery ensured a scramble inside the box where Niru Thapa sent the ball into the six-yard box – while the defense failed to avert the danger, Punam Magar tapped in from close range for Nepal.
Then, Bhandari had a header going inches wide of the far post to end the first half.
Half Time – Nepal 1 – 0 Sri Lanka
It was more of the same in the 2nd half. Niru Thapa was left wide open on the right within minutes but her effort lacked power and direction. Both Bhandari and Thapa had efforts missing the target while the referee Jalal Uddin missed a clear handball inside the box from Sri Lanka’s Sewwandi Manawadu.
On the hour mark, Ayomi was once again the saviour when she palmed away a Basnet cross from a difficult angle. Bhandari had a fierce shot going just away from the target.
Nepal got their 2nd from another set piece, this time from a corner with the defense all over the place, Basnet guided the ball past two defenders and the goalkeeper.
Sri Lanka had their first corner in the 80th minute from which they could do little but two minutes later found themselves down 3-0, with Bhandari scoring from a header off a cross from Basnet.
Soon after Bhandari had the opportunity to score her 2nd when she ran behind the defense, but with the goalkeeper rushing forward her header from the edge of the box trickled away from the goal.
Basnet was once again in the thick of things when her effort fell to an unmarked Rekha Poudel inside the box, who had ample time to score past Ayomi with the defense appealing for off-side which was clearly not there.
Full Time – Nepal 4 – 0 Sri Lanka
ThePapare.com Player of the Match – Anita Basnet (Nepal)
Nepal – Punam Magar 42’, Anita Basnet 73’, Sabitra Bhandari 82’, Rekha Poudel 86’