Maharashtra pack off Kerala in Santosh Trophy

May 31st, 2009 - 9:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai, May 31 (IANS) Maharashtra defied the odds and packed off five times champions Kerala 1-0 with K. Sampathkumar scoring the match-winner in a pre-quarterfinal match of the 63rd National Football Championship for the Santosh Trophy at Coimbatore Sunday.
Also advancing to the quarter-final league were hosts Tamil Nadu who sustained their momentum for a 5-0 win against Haryana while Goa knocked out Mizoram 3-0 and Manipur steamed past the Indian Railways 3-1.

In the quarter-final league that commences Tuesday after a day’s break, Tamil Nadu and Manipur join defending champions Punjab and Bengal (Group A), while Goa and Haryana find themselves with last year’s runners-up Services and Karnataka.

Kerala, despite enjoying partisan support, yielded ground to a determined Maharashtra who did well to see off the early overtures.

With Kerala muffing chances in the first-half, Maharashtra gradually fought their way back into the game and applied pressure on resumption.

Skipper Steven Dias cut through on the right flank and centred leading to a melee and Sampathkumar was on hand to tuck the ball in for the only goal of the match.

In Tiruchirapally, Goa turned on the heat and as the score-line suggested, were a cut above Mizoram. A two-goal strike by Marcus Mascarenhas (58th, 63rd) highlighted the Goan victory with Joaquim Abranches (44th) scoring the other goal.

In Chennai, Tamil Nadu kept up their high-scoring spree in handing out a 5-0 drubbing to Haryana with skipper Kulothungan (18th), Muthu (28th and 78th) and Riju (48th and 81st) doing the honours at the finish.

Following their huge victories in the preliminary league when they scored 25 goals in three matches, Tamil Nadu played with confidence that was fairly apparent from their attacking style of play that did leave a door open for a counter-attack.

However, on the day, the hosts were on target almost every time they came within the striking range even as the Haryana defence capitulated under the ceaseless onslaughts.

A notable feature of Tamil Nadu’s performance Sunday was the functioning of their half-line with medio Prem Kumar enjoying a solid outing as he repeatedly prompted the forwards with a string of passes.

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