Lebanon set up a semifinal clash against hosts India with a 1-0 win over Maldives in a Group B match of the SAFF Championship here on Wednesday.
Skipper Hassan Maatouk struck the all-important goal with his curling freekick in the 24th minute.
Lebanon have topped the group with an all-win record in the four-team group.
Lebanon will take on India in the battle for the summit clash on Saturday.
The two teams met recently in the final of the Intercontinental Cup in Bhubaneswar, where India emerged the winners.
The Maldives, ranked 154 in the FIFA Men’s rankings, were hoping to punch above its weight by winning against Lebanon, whom they have never beaten in previously.
Having already sealed their last-four berth, Lebanon head coach Aleksandar Ilic rested a few of his regular players including Karim Darwich.
Lebanon started the match on a positive note, keeping plenty of possession and trying to stretch the Maldives defence.
The deadlock was finally broken when Lebanon was awarded a free kick a few metres outside the penalty box.
Maatouk stepped up to curl in a right-footed shot past Maldives custodian Hussain Shareef.
Hussain was left wrong-footed after Hassan’s shot took a deflection and went in.
The Maldives defence were struggling to cope with Lebanon’s constant surge during this spell.
Hassan Maatouk combined well with Mohamad Sadek and Zein Al Abidine Farran to create havoc in the rival area.
Moments after the first goal, Lebanon squandered a golden opportunity to extend their lead when Mohamad Sadek missed from a close range. He shot well over the crossbar following Zein Al Abidine Farran’s brilliant pass from the right.
Farran created another opportunity for Lebanon as he chipped in a cross from the right to find Hassan Maatouk but his header lacked power to beat Hussain Shareef in goal.
Maldives, on the other hand, failed to have a shot on target and Lebanon goalkeeper Mehdi Khalil was never tested.
Lebanon tried to extend their lead in the second half and had it not been for Hussain Shareef under the bar, the Maldives would have conceded a few more goals.
He saved two brilliant attempts from Ali Al Haj in the second half to keep the Maldives in the game.
The Maldives finished their SAFF Championship campaign with only one win in three matches.