Santosh Trophy: Goa, Bengal enter semifinals

Trailing by a goal scored by Arjun Tudu in the eighth minute, Goa found the men for the occasion in Akeraj Martins and Cajetan Fernandez as the host scored twice in space of seven minutes to seal a semifinal place.

Goa ‘keeper claims a cross during the match against Services. The host won the game 2-1.   -  AIFF Media

Host Goa scraped through to the semifinals with two late goals against 10-men Services in the 71st Santosh Trophy National Football championship at GMC Bambolin hereon Monday.

Trailing by a goal scored by Arjun Tudu in the eighth minute, Goa found the men for the occasion in Akeraj Martins and Cajetan Fernandez as the host scored twice in space of seven minutes to seal a semifinal place.

The 2-1 win ensured that Goa finished second in Group A with eight points behind Bengal. Goa will meet Kerala in the semifinals.

Services, which needed a win to qualify, started off on the right note when Arjun Tudu found the target. But thereafter it was Goa which dominated the match. But it was a tale of missed chances for Goa with Laresh Mandekar and Aaren D’Silva missing sitters in front of Services goal.

Services was overtly defensive in the second half but it suffered a blow when skipper Rary Raj was sent off for his second bookable offence in the 67th minute. Goa made full use of its numerical advantage to put pressure on Services goal. Just when it appeared it would be heartbreak for home supporters, Akeraj Martins scored the breakthrough goal for Goa. Akeraj after receiving a high ball from Peter Carvalho that eluded the Services defenders controlled it well to lob the ball over the onrushing goal keeper in the 82nd minute. Cajetan Fernandez calmed the Goan nerves by snatching the match-winner in the 89th minute. The goal was result of good combination play between Glan Martins and Akeraj Martins.

At Tilak Maidan, Bengal defeated Meghalaya 2-0 to become group winners with 10 points. Meghalaya, which needed a win, paid price for defensive errors. Bengal went ahead in the eighth minute off a counter attack which came after a misdirected corner kick by Meghalaya was cleared out by the Bengal defence. Manavir Singh put Shaikhom Ronald Singh through and the striker made no mistake.

Bengal after the opening goal withdrew deep into its half intending to preserve the lead.

Meghalaya moved the ball nicely along the flanks but could not penetrate the watertight Bengal defence and the raids fizzled out. At the same time the Meghalaya defence was vulnerable to counter attacks and it was well exploited by Bengal. If Manavir Singh had converted the three chances he got, Bengal would have taken a big lead at half time.

The script was similar in the second half with Bengal defending in numbers. Manavir increased the lead in the 84th minute off another counter-attacking move which came from another failed Meghalaya raid towards Bengal goal. In the dying minutes Meghalaya strikers Biryson Kharkunoor and Michaelson Kurbah wasted two gilt edged chances to cap an unfortunate day for their side.

On Tuesday, Kerala takes on Maharashtra while Railways takes on Mizoram.

The result

Goa 2 (Akeraj Martins 82, Cajetan Fernandez 89) bt Services 1 (Arjun Tudu 8)

Bengal 2 (Shaikom Ronald Singh 8, Manvir Singh 84) bt Meghalaya 0

Standings (read as played, won, draw, lost, goals for, goals against points)

Group A: Bengal: 4-3-1-0-4-0-10; Goa: 4-2-2-0-5-3-8; Chandigarh 4-1-1-2-3-4-4; Meghalaya: 4-1-0-3-4-6-3; Services: 4-1-0-3-2-5-3.

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