Nepal edged out Sri Lanka 3-2 in a thrilling SAFF Championship match and are in a prime position to reach the finals of the Championship for the first time in the history on Monday.
Nepal raced to a 2-0 lead when Sri Lanka pulled one back but Nepal maintained the composure to score the third before Sri Lanka scored a late second in the entertaining and intensive encounter at the National Stadium in Male.
Nepal were pegged back early by a brisk Sri Lankan start but took the lead through Suman Lama in the 30th minute. After some clever work by Nawayug Shrestha, Lama received the ball and latched a powerful shot which Sri Lankan keeper Sujan Perera tried to keep out but Lama raced first to poke the ball into the net though replays showing the ball already going into the net in the first time round.
Following a 1-0 lead in the first half, Nepal had a brilliant chance to double their lead through Anjan Bista denied by Sri Lankan keeper in the start of second half. But Anjan soon made amends for that when Ayush Ghalan got past two defenders with some silky footwork, laid the ball to Tej Tamang whose shot came off the keeper to Anjan Bista who directed it into an empty net.
Sri Lanka, who now had a tough task to not only get back into the game but in the championship, saw their best chance cleared off the line by Suman Aryal in near the hour mark. Sri Lanka were finally rewarded through that clearance when Marvin Hamilton's powerful shot sailed into the net.
Following the goal, Sri Lanka suddenly found the boost they needed but could do no more harm. Nepal, instead, had a wonderful chance to score a third through substitute Santosh Tamang whose shot was saved by Perera. Perera was quick enough to save the rebound shot from Ghalan.
Ghalan scored Nepal's third four minutes from time when he controlled Tej Tamang's cross and showed maturity beyond his age to calmly slot it past rushing Perera. Sri Lanka scored their second through a penalty in the first minute of added time awarded after Gautam Shrestha was adjudged to have handled the ball inside the box.
Dillion De Silva sent Kiran Kumar Limbu into the opposite direction but given the defensive composure exhibited by Nepal, the comeback was always going to be late for Sri Lanka.
Nepal now have six points from two matches and are on the top of the table with the only team with cent percent results. Nepal will now play against India on October 10 and against Bangladesh on October 13.