Chhetri Becomes Fourth-Highest Goal-Scorer In International Football
Indian football legend Sunil Chhetri scored a hat-trick in his team’s triumph in their SAFF Championship campaign opener against Pakistan and became the fourth-highest goal-scorer in international football history.
Now, he has taken his goal tally to 90 and has surpassed Mokhtar Dahari of Malaysia (with 89 goals) to climb to the fourth spot among the highest goal-scorers in international football.
Argentina FIFA World Cup-winning legend Lionel Messi (103 goals), Iran’s retired player Ali Daei (109 goals) and legendary Portugal striker Cristiano Ronaldo (123) are above Chhetri in the goal-scoring list.
Among the active players, Chhetri has the third-most goals by an international player, with only Messi (103 goals) and Cristiano Ronaldo (123 goals) ahead of him.
The Indian men’s football team ran roughshod over arch-rivals Pakistan in their opening game of the SAFF Championship 2023, putting four goals past a hapless rival defence at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru on Wednesday.
Indian skipper Sunil Chhetri led from the front, scoring a hat-trick (10′, 16′ and 73′) followed by Udanta Singh Kumam’s goal in the 81st minute.
With this win, India has maintained the seventh straight clean sheet against their traditional rivals.
India positioned themselves at the top of the points table in Group A, having a better goal difference than Kuwait, who, earlier on Wednesday defeated Nepal 3-1 in the tournament opener.
India came into this tournament on the back of its title-winning campaign at the Intercontinental Cup, 2023. They are currently placed at 101 in the FIFA rankings.
India got off to a fast start and demonstrated their aggressive intent against 195th-ranked Pakistan.
India scored their first goal within 10 minutes of the game after Pakistan goalkeeper Saqib Hanif blundered in front of the goal. Saqib Hanif failed to clear the ball quickly after receiving a back-pass and played it into the path of a rushing Sunil Chhetri. The Indian skipper took advantage of the mistake and scored to put India up 1-0.
Following the score, India’s team began to attack Pakistan’s half from both flanks. Under pressure, Pakistan’s defence collapsed and gave a penalty for handling the ball in their half. Sunil Chhetri went up and shot it to the left corner of the goal, putting India up 2-0.
India maintained possession and dominated the game. Meanwhile, Pakistan nearly scored in the 29th minute as Muhammed Sufyan dribbled past the Indian defenders only to hit the crossbar. India led 2-0 at the end of the first half.
India maintained their lead in the second half and pressed for a goal right away. The Indian midfield provided through-balls to the strikers, but the attackers were unable to capitalise.
After an end-to-end battle in which Pakistan came dangerously close to scoring, the Indian side was awarded a goal. Under Indian pressure, Pakistan’s defence broke once more. Sunil Chhetri was brought down in the box, and the referee swiftly signalled to the spot. This time, Chhetri scooped the ball into the top left corner to complete his hat trick and put India up 3-0.
India scored the game’s fourth goal minutes later. Anwar Ali floated a shot into the Pakistan half, where an unmarked Udanta Singh collected it and scored from close range to make it 4-0. With the game out of reach for Pakistan, the Indian football team maintained possession and finished the game.
India will play Nepal in their second Group A match on Saturday. (ANI)
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