ISLAMABAD - Captain Anu Lama helped Nepal outclass hosts Pakistan 2-0 to send them out of the semifinals race of the 3rd South Asian Women's Football Championship being played here at Pakistan Sports Complex, Jinnah Stadium.

Goalkeeping heroics of Mahpara kept Pakistan in the game, otherwise, the hosts could have lost the match with the higher margin. Nepalese were firm favorites to win this particular tie. Pakistani girls didn't play well in their opening encounter against Sri Lanka and it was expected they would concede at least half a dozen goals against the two-time runners-up of the event.

Nepal started the first half on a very high note, putting Pakistani defense under pressure. The first 10 minutes were literally played in Pakistan's half, as Anu remained instrumental in her team’s barrage of attacks on Pakistani goal, but arguably Asia's top stopper Mahpara denied Anu from scoring in the first 14 minutes. But Anu finally broke the deadlock in the 14th minute, when she scored a classic goal from 22 yards, hitting the ball in the right corner.

The second goal arrived in the 24th minute, when Anu stepped up to take the plenty, which was awarded due to foul committed by Malika, who brought down Anu, when she was about to hit the ball. Anu calmly put the ball into the right corner. The first half saw a series of fine saves by Mahpara, which kept Pakistan in the hunt, as the half ended with Nepal comfortably leading 2-0.

Nepal also dominated the second half, as Pakistani defense was doing their best to stop Nepal from scoring further goals. Pakistan forward line was depending solely on the shoulders of skipper Hajra Khan, who put a decent fight, but she lacked support from the midfielders and there was no one who could support her in the attack. It was very disappointing for a sizable size of supporters, who were gathered to buck up the national team.

Mahpara played out of her skin, and she really deserved to be worthy player of the match, as if she was not in the goal, Pakistan team could have easily conceded at least half a dozen goals in the second half. Nepal was given hope of scoring third goal in the 83rd minute, when Malika once again fouled and brought down Anu in the box. The referee pointed the finger at the spot kick, surprisingly, despite on a hat-trick, Anu didn’t take spot kick, instead Sanjana stepped forward to take the kick, but she failed to score. Mahpara stopped the kick to safe Pakistan blushes. When the referee blew the final whistle, Pakistan head coach Tarq Lutfi looked very satisfied as if his team had won the match.

Talking to the journalists after the match, Lutfi described his team’s performance as very satisfactory and refused to give credit of restricting the Nepalese to just two goals to Mahpara and instead termed it a team work, but the ground reality was quite different. Had Mahpara not in the goal, Lutfi's exceptional coaching could well have been exposed. With back-to-back defeats, Pakistan is out of the semifinals race and now they will play the last group match for the pride against lowly Bhutan.

In the second group B match, Sri Lanka booked berth in the semifinals after thrashing Bhutan 3-0. Sachala Chitrani scored the first goal in the 20th minute, Kumudumala then doubled the lead in the 40th minute, before Praveena Perera scored the third goal in the 88th minute to ensure easy win for Sri Lanka. Now Nepal is at the top of Group B after winning both encounters and scoring 10 goals without conceding, while Sri Lanka is occupying second spot with two wins scoring five goals and conceding one. Afghanistan will take on Maldives in the first Group A match today (Saturday) at 11am, while in the second encounter of Group A, defending champions India will take on Bangladesh at 2:30pm.

Interestingly, when Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) president Makhdoom Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat arrived to witness Pakistan-Nepal match, all of a sudden, the entire PFF top brass was very much present on the occasion, which was completely nowhere for the last two days. Head coach Tariq Lutfi, who considered himself as world cup winning or world's topmost coach, also came out from the dugout in the second half as the PFF chief was present at the site, otherwise, he never bothered to even pass on instructions to team in the last match and majority of the second half of Nepal match.