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India U-23 football team enters SAG semis 

Guwahati, Feb 10 (IANS) India’s U-23 football team stormed into the semi-finals of the South Asian Games (SAG) outclassing the Maldives 3-2 here on Wednesday.

An Udanta Singh brace and a Pritam Kotal strike ensured an Indian win in a topsy-turvy match wherein the Maldives equalised twice, before finally surrendering to India’s attacking prowess.

India took the lead as early as the 4th minute when Udanta Singh steered clear off the Maldivian defence line and blasted home to give the hosts the lead.

Three minutes later, Udanta Singh once again burst onto the goal but hoofed his shot wide. In the 9th minute, the Maldives equalised against the run of play when Muruthala Adnan scored.

Not to be deterred, the Indian contingent took the charge of the match once again as Pritam Kotal’s thunderous header in the 11th minute gave the home side a 2-1 lead.

With India having the lion’s share of possession, opportunities to extend their lead came in plenty.

In the 31st minute, Udanta dashed onto a vacant left flank, however the forward slipped while positing himself for the final shot. Nine minutes later, it was Jerry tried to extend India’s lead, but his shot deflected off the Maldivian defence line.

In the 42nd minute, Maldives equalised again when Kotal scored an own goal. The match was tied 2-2 at halftime.

India once again surged into lead in the 59th minute through Udanta, who slotted his opportunity cheekily past the Maldivian custodian to make it 3-2.

The Maldivian attack pressed for the equaliser for the third time but the Indian defence line kept them at bay.

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