India earned a 2-1 win after extra time to claim the title ©SAFF

Hosts India were crowned winners of the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Suzuki Cup for the seventh time after gaining revenge for the 2013 final by earning a dramatic extra-time victory over Afghanistan in the Trivandrum International Stadium in Thiruvananthapuram.

Afghanistan headed into the contest with the aim of defending their title at their last appearance at the tournament, having joined the Central Asian Football Confederation, with the team buoyed by their 5-0 semi-final victory over Sri Lanka.

They were forced to defend in the early stages, however, as the Indian team, who beat the Maldives 3-2 in the last four made a bright start in front of a crowd of around 35,000.

An effort from Jeje Lalpekhlua struck the post for the home side after Hali Charan Narzary’s shot had been saved by Afghanistan’s Ovays Azizi.

The striker was denied by the woodwork again in the opening minutes of the second half with his volley crashing against the crossbar and Afghanistan made the most of their reprieves with Amiri Zubayr finishing a one-on-one chance in the 70th minute.

It proved only a temporary setback as it was third time lucky for Lalpekhlua just two minutes later, as the striker scored from close range after strong work from the Indian captain Sunil Chhetri.

India's captain Sunil Chherti scored the winning goal
India's captain Sunil Chherti scored the winning goal ©SAFF

The two goalkeepers then produced a series of fine saves to take the contest into extra time.

The decisive effort came in the 101st minute of the tie with 31-year-old Chhetri scoring his 50th goal for his country after firing a ball past Azizi.

With Afghanistan’s title defence hanging by a thread their players appealed in vain for a penalty after claiming the ball had been handled by an Indian defender, while Khaibar Amani struck the post in the aftermath of the protests.

The hosts held out until the final whistle to secure their first win in the tournament since 2011.

Bangladesh are scheduledto stage the next edition of the Championship in December 2017, with Bhutan, Pakistan, Maldvies, Nepal and Sri Lanka due to compete alongside the hosts and the defending champions.

Pakistan did not take part in the tournament in India, following a dispute within their National Federation.