Sun , 19 May 2019

70th Santosh Trophy Senior National - Services will face Maharastra in the finals

Maharashtra 1 (Prem Kumar – own goal – 58th) beat  Tamil Nadu 0

NAGPUR: Hosts Maharashtra beat Tamil Nadu by a solitary goal in the 2nd semifinal to book a summit clash with Defending Champions Services in the 70th National Championship for the Santosh Trophy at the SEC Railway Stadium in Nagpur.
After a barren first half, Tamil Nadu Central defender Prem Kumar deflected the ball into his own net as he tried to intercept a Shakti Singh cross from the right.
Maharashtra were even reduced to 10-men in injury time of the second half but eventually it didn’t matter.
Playing with a young Team whose average age is around 23, Maharashtra were the better Team for most of the proceedings, even though Tamil Nadu also had their chances in between.
In fact, it was Tamil Nadu who were faster off the blocks. In the 3rd minute, Soosai Raj played it behind the defence in an effort to find Tamil Nadu Striker Reagan. The latter followed it and tried to dummy rival Goalkeeper Owais Khan and wasted the opportunity in the process.
But Maharashtra regrouped fast and in the 9th minute, they should have taken the lead. Vijit Shetty followed up an Aaron D’Costa cross and with rival Sounesh at his mercy, his placement went wide.
Vijit again muffed up a photocopy of the same in the 36th minute – this time too he followed it up but placed it wide. On any other day, both would have gone in.
“We should have killed the game in the first half itself,” Maharashtra Coach Augusto D’Silva maintained after the match.
Maharashtra preferred to play a high line of defence disrupting Reagan’s comfort zone. Twice he failed to beat the off-side trap; the timings of his runs went awry allowing Maharashtra to slowly take over the reins.
Tamil Nadu tried to maintain their shape and preferred to play it between the defenders but some timely interceptions from the two Maharashtra Central Defenders didn’t allow them the luxury of running havoc.
Nevertheless, in the 34th minute a Sirajudeen free-kick from near the corner post curled dangerously and beat everyone in the process before going out.
Tamil Nadu also had a half chance in the 43rd minute. Raegan was quick to spot Owais off his line but his lob lacked the direction.
Changing over, Man of the Match Vijit tried his luck with a stinger from around 30 yards but Sounesh tipped it over. The resultant corner went abegging.
Maharashtra eventually took the lead in the 58th minute. Defender Prem Kumar in an effort keep off a Shakti Singh cross deflected it into his own net.
The goal seemed to add to Maharashtra’s confidence. They were more comfortable in keeping the ball, quite content to play the one-twos in between the spaces. Realising time was running out, Tamil Nadu chased and pressed but the deft touches added to their frustration. To worsen things, Maharashtra were winning most, or rather all the second balls in the second half.
In the 75th minute, much against the run of play, Tamil Nadu muffed from close – Soosai Raj failing to connect a dipping Alaudeen cross from the right. A slight touch would have directed it into the net.
With some ten minutes remaining, Tamil Nadu went all out. In the 81st minute M Pradeep’s shot dipped dangerously and narrowly sailed over. The very next minute, Owais dived to palm away an Ameeruddin cross.
Maharashtra were reduced to 10-men in the injury time – substitute Harold Fernandes given marching orders for bringing down Reagan outside the box. But Maharashtra managed to hold on.
Augusto credited the win to his boys. “I credit the boys for the victory. But we still have another one to go,” he said referring to the Final.
The Final between Maharashtra and Services will kick-off at 3pm on Sunday (March 13).
Courtesy- AIFF Media