Manipur Police booked itself a spot in the semifinals in style, defeating FC Kolhapur City by a massive 7-1 margin at the Guru Nanak Stadium in Ludhiana, on Tuesday. Deepa Nayak scored from the penalty spot for SAI-STC Cuttack in its match against Bangalore United, keeping the team's hopes of reaching the semifinals alive.
For Manipur Police, Bala Devi scored another hat-trick, Irom Prameshwori Devi scored a brace, while Pramodini Chanu and Daya Devi added two more; the latter won the Player of the Match award.
Much like in its previous games, Manipur had a fast start. It went 2-0 up inside the first 15 minutes, with the likes of Iron Prameshwori and Bala getting on the scoresheet.
Kolhapur, though, was not prepared to give in so early, and went on the offensive immediately.
Its efforts to play Nigerian forward Crystal Eke finally bore dividends, as she broke the offside trap, dummied Manipur keeper Roshini Devi, and walked the ball into the goal.
However, Manipur carried a two-goal lead into half-time with Bala Devi scoring another.
Manipur came out with more intent in the second half, and even nullified the threat posed by Eke by playing a highly-effective offside trap. The Nigerian was flagged several times by the assistant referee.
Daya added a fourth for Manipur when Bala exploited the space on the right and the former beautifully chipped Kolhapur keeper Gyurme Dolma Tamang.
Manipur added two more goals thanks to Bala Devi, who dribbled past three players and laid it off for Salam Pramodini Devi to fire it past the keeper. A couple of minutes later, Bala completed her hat-trick.
—SAI-STC Cuttack retains last-four hopes—
SAI-STC Cuttack boosted its chances of qualifying for the semifinals by registering its second win in a row, this time, beating Bangalore United FC by a slender margin of 1-0.
Deepa converted a penalty late in the 75th minute to earn the three points for SAI, after the side from Odisha suffered a 0-10 loss against Manipur Police SC in its first game. Jsyoti Kumari was awarded the Player of the Match for her gutsy display in defence.
Bangalore United started off the game at a high tempo, enjoying long bouts of possession, as it pushed the likes of Paromita Sit and UK forward Tanvie Hans up front. While Sit led the line, Hans dropped back to pick up the ball and spray it around the park.
SAI, however, defended resolutely till the end of the first half, and came out with more purpose in the second. India U-18 international Soni Behera played a crucial role in the middle of the park, aiding the defence to thwart the Bangalore attacks.
Its plan worked perfectly and a counter attack with a little under 15 minutes left, when a handball inside the Bengaluru box by Sivasankari Arumugam resulted in a penalty for SAI, which was duly converted by Deepa.
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