Goa, Services in Santosh Trophy semis (Lead)

June 7th, 2009 - 11:21 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai, June 7 (IANS) Services and Goa moved into the semi-finals of the 63rd National Football Championship for the Santosh Trophy after winning their Group B matches at the Nehru Stadium here Sunday.
Goa thrashed Maharashtra 5-0 with Marcus Mascarenhas scoring a hat-trick while a 28th minute penalty goal by Laldingliana carried the Services past Karnataka with a 1-0 margin.

The penalty, hotly disputed by Karnataka, was awarded following a foul on Services striker Sochungmi Raleng by defender Naveen Babu and Laldingliana made no mistake for the only goal of the match.

The victory took Services tally to six points, just one behind Goa who earlier in the day had thrashed Maharashtra 5-0 to finish on top of Group B.

In the semi-finals, Bengal will meet Services Wednesday while Goa face Tamil Nadu Thursday. Both the matches are slated for a 4 p.m. start, as also the final, scheduled for June 14.

It was not as if Karnataka were outplayed. Rather, they had the better of scoring chances, especially in the latter part of the match, but with their sharp shooting skills on vacation, they repeatedly drew blank.

At the other end, the Services, perhaps deserved to win, for they came far closer to scoring more than just one goal, but on a few occasions, the woodwork baulked their efforts.

Needing only a draw, Karnataka were perhaps a trifle complacent, but once they fell in arrears, there was more urgency in their efforts. However, in their growing desperation, chances were wasted, some of them from handshaking distance of the goal.

With such prodigality in muffing sitters, Karnataka unsurprisingly came away second best to a team that worked harder for their semi-final slot.

The Services, requiring to win outright, were under more pressure, but showed rare character and determination to pull through.

Skipper Shaji D’Silva and Raleng were eye-catching with their speedy runs and persistence while carrying the Services attacks. Both should have scored at least a goal apiece, but on the day, luck deserted them.

In contrast, Karnataka, who looked up to their skipper Xavier Vijay Kumar, were rather disappointing overall. Xavier himself appeared rather off-colour and was hardly in the frame as also fellow-striker Sanath Kumar.

Ultimately, it was not so much the better team that won, but all credit to the Services who kept punching right through the game to take the honours.

Earlier, Beevan D’Mello (21st, 30th) and Mascarenhas (35th, 55th, 90th) gave Goa a comfortable 3-0 lead in the first-half that saw Maharashtra having more of the ball possession.

It was certainly a poor play by the Maharashtra defenders who were a stride slow and barely marked the Goan forwards who when in position did as they pleased.

Goa, after being on the defensive early on, then went on the attack and courtesy the Maharashtra defenders, managed to slot home three goals that at one time were not even seen on the horizon.

Past the 21st minute, D’Mello was let free to head in a curling corner kick by Nicolas Rodrigues for the first goal. Worse was to follow for Maharashtra as D’Mello had the space to receive a pass, turn and slip it past the goalkeeper without so much as a token challenge.

Goa effectively killed the Maharashtra resistance when Mascarenhas eased between a couple of defenders to stick his leg out and deflect home a D’Mello cross to give his side a virtually unassailable 3-0 lead by the 35th minute.

After change of ends, there was no respite for Maharashtra. Mascarenhas swerved past an advanced goalkeeper Amit Nandi who left his charge in a bid to get to a long ball and Goa were up 4-0. Almost immediately, Nandi was substituted by Lihaz Koya in the Maharashtra goal, but the change made little difference to the eventual outcome.

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