Santosh Trophy: Paarakkottil helps Kerala earn a draw against Punjab

It looked as the last roll of dice when Kerala coach brought in Mohammed Parakkottil as substitute in the 69th minute. However, the diminutive under-21 striker seized the opportunity and his twin strikes in space of five minutes snatched an unlikely draw for Kerala against Punjab in a Group B match at the GMC Stadium, Bambolim on Friday.

Pujab goalkeeper Paramjit Singh tries to foiil an attempt from Kerala's Muhammed Parakkottil as Akshdeep singh (No 3) and Kerala's Jobby Justin look on in Bambolim on Friday.   -  Special Arrangement

It looked as the last roll of dice when Kerala coach brought in Mohammed Parakkottil as substitute in the 69th minute. However, the diminutive under-21 striker seized the opportunity and his twin strikes in space of five minutes snatched an unlikely draw for Kerala against Punjab in a Group B match at the GMC Stadium, Bambolim here on Friday.

Muhammed Parakkottil struck in the 89th and 94th minutes as Kerala erased a two goal deficit to keep its semifinal hopes alive. Punjab with this draw continued to lead the table with seven points from three matches.

Punjab paid the price for being overtly defensive after going 2-0 up early in the second half and let Kerala off the hook. Kerala, which till then had struggled against the physical game of its rivals, shrugged off its indifferent form and moved the ball rapidly into the Punjab penalty box through both the flanks.

After spurning a few chances, Muhammed got the breakthrough goal for Kerala in the 89th minute when his glancing header off a fine cross from Jobby Justin was bang on target. Kerala strikers swarmed the rival half during the five minutes of extra time and Muhammed Parakkottil tapped the ball in off a goalmouth melee to equalise for Kerala.

The second goal came off a thrown in when Punjab goalkeeper blasted the ball out to waste time. Sreerag’s thrown in was flicked towards the goalmouth by Jijo Joseph and Muhammed was at the right spot to slot it in.

Kerala was let down by its defence once again. There was little coordination among Kerala defenders and there was a marked reluctance to clear away balls from the penalty area. Goalkeeper Mindhun was a bundle of nerves and kept repeatedly fumbling with his collections. Punjab with robust tackles didn’t allow Kerala to play their trademark short passing game. Kerala had more of the ball in the initial minutes but gradually Punjab wrested the advantage in the midfield.

Kerala’s defence looked as it was living on borrowed time in the first half as Punjab created more chances. The opening goal came in the 49th minute when Amandeep broke through from the left flank and then squared the ball towards Vijay Kumar but before the ball could reach the striker Kerala’s defender Sherin Sam rushed in and intercepted the ball only managing to guide it into his own net.

The second Punjab goal was more authoritative. A long diagonal ball from the middle split the defence and came to Manvir Singh who beat two defenders and scored with a right footer. Thereafter Punjab went into defensive shell which changed the contest on the head.

At Vasco, Railways recorded its first win with a solitary goal win over Maharashtra which suffered its second straight defeat. Maharashtra’s went down by Rahul Das’ own goal in the ninth minute.

On Saturday, host Goa meets Chandigarh while Meghalaya takes on Services.

The result

Kerala 2 (Muhammad Parakkottil 89, 94) drew with Punjab (Serin Sam OG, Manvir Singh 57th)

Railways 1 (Rahul Das) bt Maharashtra 0.

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