Santosh Trophy: Goa edge past J&K, Kerala crush Chhattisgarh
Selwyn Miranda scored the winner for Goa
Right from the kickoff, Goa exhibited their hunger for a win. Clencio Pinto’s early diving header was brilliantly saved by J&K’s custodian, showcasing the intensity of the Goan attack. The midfield, under the adept control of Clive Miranda, intercepted effectively, denying J&K any breathing space. Despite Trijoy Dias’ dynamic runs down the flanks, Goa struggled to find the finishing touch.
The breakthrough finally came in the 19th minute when Clencio Pinto, ever the opportunist, latched onto an assist from Leewan Castanha. His thunderous strike rattled the crossbar before nestling into the back of the net, giving Goa a well-deserved lead.
However, Jammu and Kashmir, not to be outdone, upped their game. A mistimed tackle in the box led to a penalty, which Adnan Ayub confidently converted in the dying moments of the first half, leveling the scores at 1-1.
The second half witnessed a resurgent J&K side, pressing Goa back and forcing their defense into action. Dattaraj Gaonkar attempted a long-range shot, but it sailed over the crossbar. J&K’s Zubair Akhoon posed a threat with a deep cross, causing momentary panic in the Goan defense, but a frantic clearance ensured Goa’s safety.
As the clock ticked, Selwyn Miranda, the hero of the day, stepped up. His free-kick from the left corner of the penalty box went wide, but he made amends moments later. Selwyn’s relentless determination paid off when he found himself one-on-one with the keeper. His thunderous strike found the back of the net, putting Goa ahead 2-1 and sending the crowd into a frenzy of cheers.
With the lead secured, Goa showcased their defensive prowess. J&K, desperate to salvage a point, unleashed a wave of aggression. However, the Goa defense, led by Clive Miranda and bolstered by Antonio da Silva’s resolute goalkeeping, stood firm against the onslaught. The final whistle blew, marking a well-deserved victory for Goa in this nail-biting encounter.
Kerala continued their impressive run in the National Football Championship for the Santosh Trophy, securing yet another convincing 3-0 victory over Chhattisgarh at SAG Benaulim. With this win, Kerala maintained their perfect record in Group A, amassing nine points in three games and asserting themselves as favorites for direct qualification to the final round.
In their triumphant journey, Kerala showcased their attacking prowess and goal-scoring abilities, finding the back of the net 12 times in the last three matches while conceding just one goal. The team’s stellar performance has made them a force to be reckoned with in the tournament.
Kerala took the lead early in the seventh minute through Sajeesh E, seizing control of the game from the start. Muhammed Ashiq attempted a shot from the edge, but Chhattisgarh keeper Naveen Nayak made a clean save, denying Kerala an opportunity to extend their lead.
Undeterred, Kerala continued their relentless attacking play, with Bijesh delivering a precise pass to Muhammed Ashiq, although his shot narrowly missed the target. Despite their dominance, Kerala held a slim 1-0 advantage at halftime.
In the second half, Kerala wasted no time and maintained their attacking intensity. Akbar Sidhique provided a perfect pass to substitute Junain Kadvalath, who capitalized on the opportunity, firing past the Chhattisgarh keeper in the 55th minute, extending Kerala’s lead to 2-0.
Kerala’s skipper, Nijo Gilbert, showcased his exceptional skills and quick runs, consistently troubling the opposition. He made his presence felt when he sprinted down the left flank and unleashed a low shot, finding the back of the net in the 69th minute, making it 3-0 in favor of Kerala.
Chhattisgarh had a rare chance from a set-piece, with Lokesh Kumar’s effort beating the defensive wall. However, Kerala’s goalkeeper, Muhammed Nishad, displayed outstanding reflexes, diving full length to maintain a clean sheet and deny Chhattisgarh a consolation goal.
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