Kolkata: Maldives put up an impressive performance to beat Bhutan 3-1 while Afghanistan beat Bangladesh 4-0 in the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Cup games at the Trivandrum International Stadium here on Thursday.
Ahmed Imaaz, Assadhulla Abdulla and Ali Ashfaq scored for Maldives while Tshering Dorji was the only one to get on the score sheet for Bhutan in the first match of the day.
In the second encounter, Masih Saighani, Faysal Shayesteh, Zubayr Amiri, Khaibar Amani netted the goals for defending champions Afghanistan.
Earlier, Maldives were quick to control the game and push upfront at the start. The pressure led to the first goal as Imaaz easily found the back of the net with a sharp strike. But the left back had to put in the hard yards and overlap to get to the end of the pass.
Jolted, Bhutan responded with a cracking goal in the 20th minute as Dorji equalised. The midfielder twisted and turned before finding the net with a fantastic finish.
But within 11 minutes Maldives seized the lead as Abdulla flicked the ball home from a Ahmed Imaaz free-kick.
At half time, Maldives were ahead by 2-1.
Bhutan pressed on after the breather in order to restore parity, but the Maldives defence stood strong. There were a few snapshots and a strike from Biren Basnet rattled the woodwork, but none could find the back of the Maldives net.
On the other side, however, it was Maldives captain Ashfaq who in the 70th minute ensured his side had a two-goal cushion by hammering in the ball after cutting past three defenders.