A spirited Maldives got the better of Nepal 2-1 to log full points and join India at the top of the table in the second match of the Nehru Cup at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Thursday (August 23).
Goals from Abdulla Asadhulla (7th minute) and Easa Ismail (77th minute) garnered full points for Maldives. Nepal pulled one back in the dying minutes of the match through substitute Jumanu Rai.
Maldives surged ahead as early as in the 7th minute as Ashadullah made the most of a goalkeeping error to tap in the ball home. Maldives looked more enterprising during the opening exchanges of the match. They defended sturdily and stringed together some good passes.
Nepal, on the other hand, failed to live up to the expectations of their supporters who had turned up in numbers to cheer their team. They not only lacked creativity in the middle of park, but were unable cut past the Maldives back four.
Post interval, Nepal showed more intent up front with Maldives sitting deep and guarding their fort. Left winger Jagjeet Shrestha’s cross at the hour mark was headed just wide by Bharat Khawas.
As the match entered its final phase, Nepal surged in numbers testing the Maldives defenders who were caught unaware a few times. But luckily for the side that is ranked just above Nepal, luck was in their favour and they had the last laugh.
Maldives on the other hand sealed the fate of the match in the 77th minute when Easa prodded home from close range. Nepal though were finally rewarded for their good show in the second half when substitute Jumanu Rai scored a consolation goal late into injury time.
Maldives next play India in their second match on Saturday (August 25).