Mohamed Rifnas found a 90th minute winner for his side as Sri Lanka beat Nepal 1-0 in the inaugural match of the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Cup at the Trivandrum International Stadium in Kerala on Wednesday evening.
Rifnas capitalised on a defensive error to slot home an easy goal at the death.
It was a bright start for the Islanders as a lethal cross from Kavindu Ishan in the 6th minute of play just needed a touch from the Lankan forwards to surge ahead, but none could guide the ball into the empty net.
Rohit Chand came close to giving Nepal the opener with a header, but rival goalkeeper Sujan Perera pulled off a brilliant save to deny the midfielder. Nepal thereafter had more possession of the ball but could not set up any clear-cut opportunities until the 21st minute. A free-kick was punched away by Perera but the rebound fell in the way of a Nepalese forward who could not find the back of the net.
Nepal's teenage sensation Anjan Bisht tried his luck from a distance but his shot flew well over the crossbar. He then ran in from the left and his pass found two of his teammates. Each tried once but both shots were blocked and then Chand's strike from just outside the box sailed over.
At half time the scoreline was still goalless.
After the breather Nepal stepped on the gas, and almost broke the deadlock but Gharti Magar missed a sitter in front of goal. Magar again failed to control the ball and missed an opportunity after finding himself at an Anil Gurung cross.
The Lankans answered back with a few swift movements and Rizwan's free-kick almost found the top corner but custodian Kiran Kumar Limbu acrobatically fisted it away.
Nepal had to pay for their missed chances as a few minutes later Rifnas found the winner for Sri Lanka.