Chhetri’s hat-trick lifts India to a 4-0 victory over Pakistan in the SAFF Championship.

Sunil Chhetri scored a brilliant hat-trick to help India defeat Pakistan 4-0 in their SAFF Championship opening on Wednesday in Bengaluru, moving him into second place among Asian players with hat tricks in international football.

Iranian Ali Daei, who has 109 goals in 149 games, currently holds the record. Chhetri has so far scored 90 goals.

On a damp night at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium, Pakistan put up sporadic fight, but they were unable to match India’s consistency and purpose.

In the Intercontinental Cup final against Lebanon in Odisha on Sunday, Chhetri displayed flashes of his former exuberant self, and the Indian captain stepped it up on his “home turf.”

When Chhetri made a stunning field goal in the 10th minute, India had already rapidly adapted to the playing surface and their opponents.

Six minutes later, the talismanic attacker increased the lead with a penalty, and at 2-0, it was clear which way the game was going.

In the first half, India tried to add more goals, but their attempts were futile because Pakistan’s defence held strong. India also wasted a few opportunities to put pressure on their competitors, albeit not by much.

However, it did not stop India’s second-half surge. In an effort to score additional goals, the hosts surged forward. The crucial moment occurred when India made it 3-0 in the 74th minute.

Indian captain Virat Chhetri was hauled down by Pakistani defenders inside the penalty area, and referee Prajwal Chhetri awarded India a penalty kick. Chhetri made the conversion to finish with a hat-trick and put an end to Pakistan’s chances of winning.

The visitors continued to suffer after Udanta Singh’s goal in the 81st minute increased India’s margin of victory. Udanta made a strong, swift run down the pitch after receiving a through pass from Sandesh Jhingan, slipping the ball past the Pakistan custodian.

Despite a significant downpour, India’s lavish performance enthralled the stadium’s 22860-strong crowd. In their second Group A match on Saturday, India will next take on the underdog Nepal.

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