Gurkirat Singh netted four goals, including a hat-trick, as the Indian football team beat Bangladesh 5-2 to retain the SAFF U20 Championship title at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Friday.
The SAFF U-20 Championship is in its fourth edition. Nepal won the first two editions in 2015 and 2017 before India bagged their first crown in 2019.
On Friday, India took lead within a minute from the kick-off as Bangladesh goalkeeper Md. Asif brought down Gurkirat Singh inside the box. The powerful striker converted from the spot as Asif misjudged the kick and dived the wrong way.
Asif tightened his reflexes and stood like a wall throughout the rest of the half as the Indians missed their chances to extend the lead.
Bangladesh scored at the stroke of half-time. Md. Rafiqul Islam assisted Md. Rajon Howladar from the right flank, and the latter smashed the ball in the bottom-left corner to find the equaliser for the visitors.
Bangladesh rode on the momentum and extended their lead in the 48th minute. Shahin Mia sent down a ferocious free-kick that stormed into the inner side of the right post.
India maintained their composure and kept Bangladesh on a tight leash despite remaining behind in the game. Gurkirat found the equaliser in the 60th minute by testing and confusing the defenders with his fine dribbling skills.
Both the teams were locked 2-2 at the end of 90 minutes. India had different plans in the extra time period.
Himangshu Jangra turned the tide with a 92nd-minute goal. Gurkirat completed his hat-trick in the 94th minute and fired another bullet from a long-range to go beyond Asif for the fourth time in the game.
Gurkirat Singh was the top goal scorer of the SAFF U20 Championship 2022 with eight goals.