Gurkirat Singh scores four as India beat Bangladesh in final to win SAFF U-20 Championship

India emerged champions in the SAFF U-20 Championship after a topsy-turvy final against Bangladesh that finished 5-2 in the hosts’ favour in Bhubaneswar on Friday.

Gurkirat Singh was India’s hero as he scored four goals on the night to give India an emphatic win in the end but not before Bangladesh had taken the hosts into extra-time.

Gurkirat opened the scoring in the very first minute to give India a dream start in the final, but Bangladesh fought back with goals either side of half-time from Rajon Howladar (44’) and Shahin Mia (48’) to take a 2-1 lead.

India restored parity on the hour mark as Gurkirat found himself on the scoresheet again. Neither team could find the breakthrough in regulation time forcing the final into extra time with a scoreline of 2-2.

The hosts then made the breakthrough through Jangra to go ahead 3-2 before Gurkirat scored twice again in the next few minutes to clinch India the trophy.

The win was even more impressive considering Bangladesh had beaten India 2-1 in the Round Robin stage to finish on top of the group ahead of the hosts.

But Shanmugan Venkatesh’s side bounced back from that setback to claim their second SAFF U-20 Championship title.

India had won the previous edition in 2019 and successfully defended their title in Bhubaneswar on Friday.

India’s hero in the final, Gurkirat Singh was declared the Most Valuable Player of the tournament and also clinched the top scorer’s award, while Som Kumar earned the Golden Gloves Award.

“It was a great feeling. It was a great match for me. I want to score more goals for my country,” Gurkirat said after the game.

“Coach told us to stay mentally strong in extra-time as it was a crucial period. I’m happy I was able to score the goals and help my team,” he added.

Gurkirat finished the tournament with eight goals thanks to his exploits in the final. He was level going into the final with Mirajul Islam of Bangladesh and Parthib Sundar Gogoi of India who finished the tournament with four goals apiece.

Jangra was India’s third-highest goalscorer in the tournament with three strikes.

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