Santosh Trophy: Andhra holds Tamil Nadu

Andhra Pradesh pulled off a 1-1 draw against strong contender Tamil Nadu in the opening fixture of the Hero Santosh Trophy South zone qualifiers.

T. Vijay played his heart out and also scored the equaliser for Tamil Nadu.   -  Rayan Rozario

Andhra Pradesh pulled off a 1-1 draw against strong contender Tamil Nadu in the opening fixture of the Hero Santosh Trophy South zone qualifiers at the Bharathi Stadium here on Sunday.

With the national championship visiting this town for the first time, the crowd had come in good number to cheer the host. But they were in for a rude shock as the visiting side drew first blood in the 12th minute.

J.R. Anand Raj made the big blunder of tackling G. Manjunath from behind, and from inside the danger area. The referee was quick to show the spot and the team had to pay for it as Manjunath converted the penalty with ease.

The early goal forced the Tamil Nadu boys to go all out. They managed to keep control and even cut open the defence on numerous occasion but lacked the finishing skills.

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Jones Antony and Syed Suhail Pasha showed great understanding upfront but the former had to leave midway through due to an injury. The team kept trying but had to get back to the room disappointed having not found the equaliser.

The second half was played in a similar fashion with the host dominating from the start. But Andhra quickly settled down and came up with some clever passes and even went for the counter.

The Tamil Nadu boys displayed speed but failed miserably in their crosses. They either packed it early or late. After a long haul in the middle, the host managed to find the equaliser through T. Vijay in the 63rd minute.

Suhail Pasha struck a powerful right footer only to find Andhra custodian T. Ajay Kumar block his effort. But Vijay was quick to pick the rebound and packed it neatly into the net much to the joy of the team.

Tamil Nadu could have scored half a dozen goals during this period but Ajay stood like a rock and helped the team salvage a draw.

Tamil Nadu coach V. Soundararajan was disappointed. He wanted his boys to score more goals but they could manage only one.

“There’s no time to relax from here. We will have to go all out against Karnataka to qualify,” he said.

The Andhra coach Zakeer Hussain was pleased with the effort of his boys. “Tamil Nadu dominated but Ajay was our star. I am happy with the result,” he said.

The result:

Tamil Nadu 1 (T. Vijay 63) drew with Andhra Pradesh 1 (G. Manjunath 12).

Monday matches: Kerala vs Telangana (9am); Services vs Pondicherry (4pm).

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