Manipur overcame stubborn resistance from Gujarat to eke out a hard fought 2-0 win in the Santosh Trophy National football championship at the Kottappadi Football stadium here on Thursday.
Manipur, with its second win, kept its semifinal hopes alive while Gujarat slumped to its third consecutive defeat. After a goalless first half, a goal from striker Sudhir Laitonjam (47) and an own goal by Gujarat defender Siddharth Suresh Nair ( 67) gave the much needed win for Manipur.
Pluck and luck
The team from the North East slipped into the attack mode from the start but an overtly defensive Gujarat managed to baulk the attempts to score. The Gujarat goal survived through some pluck and luck in the first half.
However, at the start of the second half, the Gujarat defence was breached when Ngariyanbam Jenish Singh’s through pass found an unmarked Sudhir Laitonjam inside the box. The striker scored to put Manipur ahead in the 47th minute.
The opening goal triggered a flurry of moves from the Manipur side which rattled the Gujarat defence. The sustained pressure resulted in the second goal in the 67th minute when Gujarat defender Siddharth Suresh Nair made an erroneous clearance and watched in dismay as the ball enter his own net. Gujarat showed some late spark but Manipur defence was well organised to be troubled.
Karnataka stuns Services
Karnataka rode on P. Ankith's header in the 38th minute to stun defending champion Services by a solitary goal on Thursday. Karnataka's first win has opened up the group B and effectively ended Services' chances of securing a place in the semifinal.
Karnataka goalkeeper Jayanth Kumar gave a lionhearted performance under the bar. The keeper made a string of saves in the first half to keep his side in the game. Karnataka defended stoutly in the second half and defender Pavan made a goal-line save in the dying minutes to deny Services.
- Manipur 2 (Sudhir Laitonjam 47, Siddharth Suresh Nair -og 67) bt Gujarat 0.
- Karnataka 1 (P. Ankith 38) bt Services 0.
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