Santosh Trophy 2019-20: TN rides on Lijo hat-trick to beat Andhra 4-1

A goal difference of three means Tamil Nadu must beat Kerala in the final match in Pool A on Saturday in order to qualify for the final phase.

Andhra and Tamil Nadu in action at the Santosh Trophy fixture in Kozhikode on Thursday.   -  S. RAMESH KURUP

 

It is not often that you will find a coach unsatisfied after a 4-1 win. But it wasn't difficult to understand why Jestes Antony wasn't overly pleased despite Tamil Nadu's comprehensive victory against Andhra in the Santosh Trophy South Zone qualifiers at the Corporation Stadium on Thursday

A goal difference of three means Tamil Nadu must beat Kerala in the final match in Pool A on Saturday in order to qualify for the final phase. The coach said the aim was to score at least six, so that it could get ahead of Kerala in goal difference.

For much of the opening half, it looked as if Andhra didn't want to disappoint him, as it defended shabbily, making the job easier for the Tamil Nadu forwards, from among whom L. Lijo stood out.

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The 18-year-old from Kanyakumari scored a splendid hat-trick. He netted all his goals after A. Divakar drew first blood in the 16 minute.

Tamil Nadu's intent to post a big win was pretty obvious. It seemed too eager to break into the rival box and even played a bit rough, with Lijo even picking up a yellow card as early as the third minute; he would make amends, of course.

Before his heroics began, Divakar got an excellent opportunity to put his name in the scorers' list. All he had to do was to slot the ball in, after the Andhra goalkeeper Koppisetti Ajay failed to clear the ball properly.

Then, just four minutes later, Lijo was the beneficiary of another piece of sloppy defence from Andhra. He had no trouble in getting past the defenders and a startled custodian.

Then in the second half, he scored off an excellent square pass from B. Allan Rahul. He completed his hat-trick, finishing off a swift move down the right.

Y. Tharun Kumar Reddy's goal, with four minutes remaining, ensured Andhra would at least not end its campaign goalless.

On Friday, Karnataka takes on Telengana.

The result: Tamil Nadu 4 (A. Divakar 16, L. Lijo 22, 72 & 86) bt Andhra 1 (Y. Tharun Kumar Reddy 79)

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