Santosh Trophy: Tamil Nadu beat Manipur to reach semis

June 6th, 2009 - 8:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai, June 6 (IANS) T. Muthu scored a hat-trick as hosts Tamil Nadu humbled Manipur 3-1 in a Group A quarter-final league match to qualify for the semi-finals of the 63rd National Football Championship for the Santosh Trophy here Saturday.
Tamil Nadu struck telling blows through Muthu (18th, 34th, 35th) in the first half as Manipur committed several horrendous mistakes.

The only consolation for Manipur was a goal by Mutum Bijen Singh (50th).

Tamil Nadu concluded their league engagements with four points, but more importantly with a positive (plus-one) goal-difference while Manipur also finished with four (minus-1 goal-difference), but are out of the tournament and regardless of the outcome of the Punjab (3) vs Bengal (2) match later Saturday.

Having lost to Punjab after a draw with Bengal, Tamil Nadu needed to win against Manipur to book their semi-final slot and they did precisely that, but few had reckoned a miserable performance by Manipur.

Time and again Manipur blundered to allow Tamil Nadu to gain not just the upper hand but also score at regular intervals, especially in the first-half, to close out the game.

A handball by defender T. Thomas Singh who tried to stop a Riju shot led to a penalty kick for Tamil Nadu and Muthu struck well to give the hosts a 1-0 lead. Thomas Singh was also booked with a yellow card.

Thomas Singh’s wretched evening continued as he surrendered the ball to Muthu while attempting a backpass to the goalkeeper. The Tamil Nadu striker showed great sense of opportunism to gain possession and score the second goal.

Almost immediately, Muthu again worked his magic with a clever chip over the goalkeeper after receiving a defence splitting ball from Mohan Raj that caught the Manipur defence napping.

Crossing over with a massive lead, Tamil Nadu were in for a huge surprise as Manipur attacked relentlessly and stunned the home team when Bijen Singh fired a long shot to the back of the net off a Syed Farid pass.

Thereafter, both teams stepped up the pace with Tamil Nadu rather anxious, but not exactly panicking in the face of the Manipuri onslaughts.

Neither had a clear look at the rival goal though there was no shortage of some sniper shots at the target, but hardly finding the bulls-eye.

Sunday’s fixtures:

Group B: Goa vs Maharashtra (4 p.m.) and Karnataka vs Services (6.30 p.m.).

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