The hosts booked a final berth for the 13th time…

Liston Colaco scored a brace to help Goa book another Final date in the 71st Santosh Trophy with West Bengal as the hosts scripted a hard fought 2-1 win over Kerala in the second semi-final match played under the floodlights at GMC Stadium on Thursday.

Goa had struggled to reach the semis as they had to beat Services in the last match to confirm their berth in the top four, while Kerala had made it to the semis with a match in hand. However, they were beaten 2-0 by the last time’s finalists Maharashtra in their last group match.

Goa gaffer Mateus Costa made two changes to his side as Cajetan Fernandes and Leander D’Cunha were back in the line-up replacing Latesh Mandrekar and injured Leny Pereira. The Kerala coach VP Shaji named his best XI after making eight changes in the last match against Maharashtra.

Goa started well with numerous attacks on the opponents, however, Kerala were seen fighting equally for possession. Both the teams had equal chances in the first 10 minutes but the hosts were first to break the deadlock in the 14th minute. Defender Assumption Soares made a darting run on the left wing and released the ball to Liston Colaco in the box. The striker made no mistake to slot it past Kerala keeper Midhun V.

Down by a goal, Kerala tried to keep the pressure with counter attacks but failed to break the Goa backline. On the half hour mark, Goa once again came close to scoring when Glan Martins found unmarked Brian Mascarenhas in the box, who blasted it towards the Goa goal only to see it cleared off the line by Kerala defender Sherin Sam. A few minutes later, the Kerala back four once again failed to hold Goa forwards when Liston, with his excellent footwork, dribbled past few defenders after getting hold of a classy pass, finished the ball into the far post and made it 2-0 for the hosts.

Goa had one more chance before the first half whistle when Aaren D’Silva sent a pinpoint pass to Brian in the box but the winger’s shot was acrobatically saved by Kerala keeper Midhun.

Kerala came out stronger in the second half as they were camped inside Goa’s half. The South Indians were the dominant side in the entire second session. Goa were seen busy defending with all eleven players.  In between these, Goa had a good chance to further extend their lead. Liston initiated the move with a brilliant through pass to Brian from the halfway line. The winger covered good ground and curled it to rushing Aaren in the box but the striker failed to control his shot as it went out for a goal-kick.

Kerala tried hard for the goal and they finally go success through Rahul Raj. The defender headed off Jobby Justin’s back header. Asharudeen was the architect of the goal with a perfect corner.

Energized by the goal, Kerala came all-out attacking but their strikers failed every time. Goa were finding it difficult to hold the solitary goal lead but  the opponents forwards were making it easy for the hosts by shooting wide from distance.

It was more intense in the dying minutes for Goa but their keeper Bruno Colaco saved the day for the host team.

Goan coach Costa was happy after his side made it to the Final and praised his boys for the excellent performance.

“It was a really hard fought game. Kerala were trailing and of course, the trailing team will put the pressure but my boys did well. They handled the pressure till the end excellently,” said the Goan coach.