Santosh Trophy: Mizoram enters semifinal

Mizoram’s crushing 5-1 win over Railways at GMC stadium ended Maharashtra’s chances as the North Eastern State finished second in the group with seven points. Kerala had already qualified from the group on Sunday.

Mizoram exploded in the second half to crush Railways 5-1.   -  AIFF Media

Last year’s runner-up Maharashtra bowed out of the 71st Santosh Trophy National Football championship despite scoring a 2-0 win over Kerala at Tilak Maidan here on Tuesday.

Mizoram’s crushing 5-1 win over Railways at GMC stadium ended Maharashtra’s chances as the North Eastern State finished second in the group with seven points. Kerala had already qualified from the group on Sunday.

Maharashtra ended the campaign on a high note against a second string Kerala side which rested eight first choice players. However, the makeshift Kerala side came a cropper against Maharashtra side which showed keenness and hunger for a win. Aaron D’Costa finally found form and was the architect of his team’s win. Aaron’s piercing runs on the right flank kept the fragile Kerala defence on tenterhooks throughout the match.

Kerala after starting the match with a flourish retreated to defensive mode as Maharashtra took control of the midfield. It was Kerala which created the first genuine chance in the match when Muhammed Purakkottil found Usman with a high cross. But the striker headed out narrowly to waste the chance in 20th minute.

Thereafter Maharashtra’s midfield took control and Aaron found space on the right flank to make his way into the box. The midfielder then arrowed in a precise cross for Vaibhav Shetty to head in the opening goal in the 34th minute.

Kerala gave an improved performance in the second half with introduction of Asharudeen and Jishnu Balakrishnan. However, the counter-attacking Maharashtrians once again split the Kerala defence and the spadework for the goal was done by Aaron D’Costa. Aaron again made a darting run on the right flank and squared the ball towards Kerala goalmouth. Shrikanth Veeramallu gave his marker the slip to meet the ball and placed it into the net for the second goal in the 59th minute.

Kerala pressed hard in the final 20 minutes and earned two chances. But Maharashtra goalkeeper Aditya Mishra proved to be equal to the task. Aditya came out of his guard to deny Muhammed Purakkottil in the 75th minute and in the 89th minute the goalkeeper tipped over a dangerous free-kick from Jijo Joseph.

Mizoram exploded in the second half to crush Railways 5-1. Lalchhuanwma put Mizoram ahead in the 24th minute but Jitendra Pal restored parity for Railways in the 42nd minute as teams went into the half level at 1-1.

Mizoram ran riot in the second half with Lalrinpuia scoring a brace (60,82). Lalrinchhana struck in the 71st minutewhile Lalsangbera converted a penalty in the 78th to cap a fine day for Mizoram.

The results: Maharashtra 2 (Vaibhav Shetty 34, Shrikant Veeramallu 59) bt Kerala 0.

Mizoram 5 (Lalchhuanawma 24, Lalrinpuia 60, 82, Lalrinchhana 71, Lalsangbera 78) bt Railways 1 (Jitendra Pal 42).

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

Group B: Kerala: 4-2-1-1-10-7-7; Mizoram: 4-2-1-1-9-6-7, Maharashtra 4-2-0-2-4-4-6; Punjab: 4-1-2-1-4-5-5; Railways: 4-1-0-3-5-11-3.

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