Kathmandu: Nepal’s Tribhuvan Army FC came from a goal down to beat SL Police SC of Sri Lanka 5-1 to advance to the second round of the 2021 AFC Cup Preliminary Stage on Wednesday.
Head coach Nabin Neupane and his squad will now travel to Goa to face India’s Bengaluru FC next Wednesday in their bid to advance to the group stage.
Tribhuvan started the match strongly with Nawayug Shrestha coming close just 15 seconds into the match, setting the tone for the match as the the home team applied heavy pressure on SL Police.
Tribhuvan, however, were guilty of missing several chances while goalkeeper Dinesh Mahendran was also a steady pair of hands in the SL Police goalmouth.
SL Police’s best chances came from counter-attacks with Evans Asante the focal point and in the 28th minute, the Ghanaian striker collected Isaac Addevu’s long-range cross in the box before slotting home with a left-footed strike.
Pushed on by their fans at the Dashrath Stadium, Tribhuvan pushed for the equaliser and Santosh Tamang (pictured below, right) duly delivered in the 41st minute when SL Police failed to clear a corner kick, allowing Tamang to let loose a half-volley from outside the box.
Less than two minutes later, Shrestha rose highest to head home captain Bharat Khawas’ cross from the right to give Tribhuvan a deserved lead.
Tribhuvan wasted little time in widening their lead when Taska Basnet scored from close range in the 50th minute after SL Police custodian Mahendran had made an initial save.
SL Police changed gears and pushed Tribhuvan into defence and Asante could have reduced the deficit in the 76th minute but the crossbar denied him.
However, any hope SL Police had of a comeback was extinguished in the 83rd minute when a series of defensive mistakes in the box gave Tribhuvan’s Sudil Rai enough space to convert the loose ball from inside the box.
Shrestha then settled the proceedings in the fourth minute of added time, finding the net from outside the box to seal Tribhuvan’s convincing win.