India have reached the final of the SAFF Championship for the eighth consecutive time with a dramatic 4-2 penalty shootout win over Lebanon after a gripping semi-final clash ended goalless. The thrilling match took place at an electrifying stadium, where fans eagerly anticipated the clash between these two sides.

Lebanon, representing one of the two non-SAFF region teams in the tournament, displayed their determination right from the beginning. Nader Matar had an excellent opportunity to give Lebanon the lead, but unfortunately, his shot sailed just over the crossbar. 

India gradually picked up their momentum towards the end of the first half, creating several scoring chances that kept Lebanon’s defence on high alert.

The second half began with an intense battle between the teams, resulting in a flurry of fouls committed by both sides. Lebanon resorted to committing numerous fouls in an attempt to halt India’s relentless attacks, as the Indian players constantly pushed forward in their pursuit of a breakthrough.

As the match entered extra time, both teams came agonisingly close to breaking the deadlock. Lebanon remained relatively quiet in the first half of extra time, but they unleashed their offensive potential in the final 15 minutes. However, despite their efforts, neither team managed to find the elusive winning goal.

The penalty shootout proved to be a nerve-wracking affair. India’s captain, Sunil Chhetri, confidently scored the first penalty, while Lebanon’s initial attempt was thwarted by an exceptional save from Indian goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu. India’s Anwar Ali, Mahesh Singh Naorem, and Udanta Singh Kumam all successfully converted their penalties, demonstrating composure under pressure.

Lebanon fought back valiantly, with Walid Shour and Mohamed Sadek finding the back of the net from the penalty spot. However, Khalil Bader’s decisive fourth shot veered wide, denying Lebanon the chance to make it to the final.

With this hard-fought victory, India secured their place in the SAFF Championship final for the eighth consecutive time in the regional tournament’s history. They will face Kuwait, who emerged victorious against Bangladesh in the first semi-final earlier today. The much-anticipated final is scheduled to take place on 4 July.