Chhetri scored at 62 and 71 minutes later Manvir singh had given India the lead in the 33rd minute in India’s must-have match. Ali Ashfaq scored a goal for the Maldives in the 45th minute with a penalty.
Chhetri’s double also took him beyond the Brazilian legend Peel77 international goals.
Chhetri surpassed Pele’s mark when he scored in the 62nd minute. The Indian skipper’s second goal raised his tally to 79. He is now the third top international scorer in action.
Chhetri, 37, who was playing his 124th game, is just one goal away from the Argentine maestro Lionel messi (80), who is the second international top scorer among active players behind the Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo (115).
FULL TIME! ⌛️The referee blows his whistle and ends the match! India has reached the final! 🙌🇮🇳 3… https://t.co/pxmRP9jYrv
– Indian Soccer Team (@IndianFootball) 1634147576000
Seven-time champions India, who finished atop the five-team table with eight points, will meet Nepal in the final on October 16.
Nepal drew 1-1 with Bangladesh in the previous match of the day to finish second in the all-against-all league with seven points.
India had beaten Nepal 1-0 in a league stage.
With the victory over the Maldives, India was saved from falling out of account for the final of the regional tournament, which would have been the country’s worst result in recent times.
This will be India’s twelfth final appearance.
A wonderful gesture 🙌Skipper @ chetrisunil11 presented his Man of the Match award to @ apuiaralte45 for his brilliant… https://t.co/UBSyYqGbNT
– Indian Soccer Team (@IndianFootball) 1634151688000
India dominated the entire match and Chhetri nearly gave India the lead in the 27th minute, but his header off a Brandon Fernandes corner kick hit the crossbar.
Ashfaq had a dangerous shot at the Indian goal in the 28th minute, but was blocked by a defender.
Five minutes later, Manvir fired at the Maldives goalkeeper at the near post to give India the lead.
Seconds before halftime, Ashfaq scored a penalty to put the Maldives back on equal footing.
We 💙 you, @ choudharyfar8 #INDMDV ⚔️ # SAFFChampionship2021 🏆 #BackTheBlue 💙 #IndianFootball ⚽ https://t.co/g21iwH8Ozn
– Indian Soccer Team (@IndianFootball) 1634152193000
India’s head coach Igor Stimac brought in agile winger Udanta Singh in the 51st minute in place of Brandon Fernandes.
Shortly after, in the 62nd minute, India took the lead. An Apuia center was taken down by Manvir so that Chhetri exploded at the bottom of the Maldives net.
The Indian captain scored his second goal of the day with a looped header that crashed into the rival net in the 71st minute.