The victory marked Pakistan’s return to official international fixtures after more than three years
An injury-time winner saw Pakistan begin their Saff Championship 2018 campaign with a surprising 2-1 win over Nepal in the tournament’s inaugural match at the Bangabandhu National Stadium on Tuesday afternoon. The victory marked Pakistan’s return to official international fixtures after more than three years.
Both the sides started the game slow before striker Hassan Naweed Bashir put Pakistan ahead from the spot in the 34th minute after a harsh penalty call by the referee that saw Muhammad Riaz fall down inside the box with Biraj Maharjan marking the midfielder closely behind.
Defender Suman Aryal almost gave Nepal the equalizer six minutes later with a low-header from the six-yard box followed by a corner, but Pakistan keeper Ijaz Butt made a quick save on the goal-line.
Nepal made tactical changes in the second-half that helped them gain more possession and chances while Pakistan continued to look dangerous on counter-attacks. Substitute forward Saadullah tried his luck from 30-yards away that hit the woodwork.
Star forward Bimal Gharti Magar equalized the margin in the 82nd minute netting home a neatly placed right-footed shot after substitute midfielder Nirajan Khadka back-headed a corner to an unmarked Bimal in the middle of the box.
The Pakistan keeper made a couple of fine saves in the 89th minute to deny Sunil Bal first before fisting away Sujal Shrestha’s powerful strike on the rebound.
Pakistan forward Muhammad Ali sealed the victory in injury-time from a counter-attack, heading past the Nepal keeper following a headed pass by Saadullah.
Pakistan will face hosts Bangladesh while Nepal takes on Bhutan in their second Group B match on Thursday.
Pakistan 2 (Bashir 34-P, Ali 90+1) 1 Nepal (Bimal 82)