New Delhi: Youngster Chhangte Lallianzuala produced a dream outing as hosts India fought back from a goal down to thrash Nepal 4-1 in their South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Cup Group A match in Trivandrum on Sunday.
With the win, group toppers India have qualified for the semi-finals along with Sri Lanka. On Christmas day, India beat Sri Lanka 2-0 in their opening match thanks to a Robin Singh double.
18-year-old Lallianzuala, coming on as a substitute for Sanju Pradhan after the break, scored twice in the final 10 minutes to kill off the contest. His 81st minutes strike was a thing of beauty - a solo effort from the right flank, which ended with an left footed curling effort. Nine minutes later, he headed home India's fourth and his second international goal in his second match.
Chhangte, in the process, also became the youngest Indian scorer, moving past the legendary Baichung Bhutia, who did it as a 19-year-old against Uzbekistan in the 1995 Nehru Cup.
Earlier, after conceding the lead to Nepal inside the first three minutes to a scramble effort from Bimal Magar, Rowlin Borges equalised in the 26th minute, then skipper Sunil Chhetri provided the vital lead in the 68th minute with a cool finish from close range.
India coach Stephen Constantine made five changes to the side which beat Sri Lanka two days ago. Arnab Mondal, Jeje Lalpekhlua, Robin Singh, Gurpreet Singh and Pronay Halder were dropped to bring Aiborlang Khongjee, Bikash Jairu, Hali Charan Narzary, Rowlin Borges and Subrata Paul.
And Nepalese camp also dropped their inspirational skipper Anil Gurung, only to brought in the second half.
In a clash of two youthful sides, Nepal started fluently against India and forced Indian goal-keeper Subrata Paul to a series of good saves.
But with each passing minute, the host increased their tempo resulting in their own attacks. After a sluggish start, India controlled the proceedings with Chhetri leading from the front.