Maharashtra sets up final meeting with Services

Goa’s self goal helps four times champion Services enter Santosh Trophy final after the two teams failed to score a goal during the 90 minutes of the game and in the four additional minutes.

Services is now one win away from a fifth Santosh Trophy championship title.   -  THE HINDU

Young guns from Maharashtra boomed to end Tamil Nadu’s dream run in 70th Santosh Trophy football championship at the SEC Railway stadium here on Friday.

The host eked out a solitary goal win, courtesy an own goal from Tamil Nadu’s defender V. Prem Kumar, who while intercepting a long ball from Maharashtra’s Shakti Singh Takur, chested it into his own net in the 59th minute.

The host, which is entering the final after a gap of 11 years, will meet defending champion Services which entered its fourth final in five years. Services also beat Goa by a solitary goal, with the winning goal coming in the 116th minute through another own goal, this time by Goa defender Mohammed Ali.

After having not conceded a single goal in the tournament till it entered the semi finals, the goal which Tamil Nadu conceded was a soft one indeed. There was a breakdown in communication between goalkeeper T. Sounesh and his defender Prem Kumar. The goalkeeper completely missed the long ball, which was whipped in by Shakti Singh, and was down on the ground while Prem Kumar without realising it chested it towards an open net.

Tamil Nadu fielded its best side with injured Satish and Sandosh given a start by the coach Robin Charles Raja. However, Maharashtra never allowed Tamil Nadu to settle down in the midfield where Raynier and Mohammed Shahbaz were outstanding. Working the ball through the wings, the host stamped its control from the start but Vijit Shetty muffed two genuine chances his team got in the first half. In the 11th minute Vijit shot out from close after being put in a good position by Aaron and again in the 36th minute he was wayward with his attempt.

The Tamil Nadu attempts were half-hearted. Sirajudeen induced a good save from Owais Khan in the 28th minute while Soosairaj failed to connect as Sirajudeen crossed from right flank at stroke of half-time.

The host asserted itself early in the second half and the pressure yielded the opening goal in the 59th minute. In the 65th minute Shakti Singh again tried his luck with a longer ranger which was tipped away by Sounesh. The best chance which Tamil Nadu earned in the second half came in the 73rd minute but Soosairaj again was found wanting as he couldn’t connect the fine cross from Kali Alaudeen.

Despite being down by a man in the 90th minute, after Harold Fernandez was sent off for his second yellow card, Maharashtra held on to its lead in six minutes of added time.

Earlier, Goa’s Mohammed Ali's own goal in the 116th minute broke the deadlock in a tight contest in which both teams wasted several chances to score during regular time.

The Goan defender deflected the ball into his own net as Service forward Tudu pushed the ball from the touchline towards the Goa goalmouth.

If Goans enjoyed possession initially in the first half they were to surrender it to the hard tackles of Services midfielders. Services wrested control to create more chances. Tudu, who wasted a chance in the 74th minute, finally made amends by creating the opening for the match winner. But before Ali’s gaffe, Semson Fenandez had an opportunity to close out the match during regular time. But Services goalkeeper Bhaskar Roy came out of his guard to deny Semson, who was put in position by Miagres Gonsalves, in the 86th minute.

The result (semi finals)

Services 1 (Mohammed Ali own goal 116) bt Goa 0

Maharashtra 1 (V. Prem Kumar own goal 59) bt Tamil Nadu 0.

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