The forward scored three goals in the last two matches.
Joaquim Abranches scored the only goal of the match, as Goa qualified for the final phase after registering a hard-fought 1-0 win over Madhya Pradesh, in the Santosh Trophy West Zone Qualifiers played at Indira Gandhi Stadium in Solapur on Monday.
Goan coach Samir Naik made only one change to his side which defeated Lakshadweep in the last match, as Glan Martins was back in the starting XI, replacing injured Peter Carvalho. Whereas, Madhya Pradesh coach Ashrujit Chatterjee chose to field the same XI which had earned him victories in the last two matches against Lakshadweep and Daman & Diu.
In a must-win match, Goa started on an attacking note and took just 30 seconds to come close to scoring, as Abranches went for glory from inside the box, but his goalbound shot was blocked by rival midfielder Akash Bhabore.
A few minutes later, the former champions came up with another swift attack from the left, as this time Glan tried to find Abranches with a low curling cross, but Madhya Pradesh keeper Abhijit Roy came off the line to clear the danger on time.
The Goans had the best chance in the 18th minute, when they were awarded a free-kick just outside the 18-yard box, but skipper Jessel Carneiro saw his sparkling shot blocked by opposition custodian Roy. However, unmarked Goan defender Meldon D’Silva shot wide from close range.
After probing attacks, Goa finally managed to break the deadlock in the 23rd minute, when the skipper produced a superb through pass to Lalawmpuia, who covered some ground and curled it to the well-placed Abranches in the box. The 33-year-old forward brilliantly tapped the ball home from six yards out to put his side ahead.
Madhya Pradesh regrouped after conceding a goal and came up with few attacks on their rivals, but could not manage to break Goa’s defence. Their midfielder Bhabore tried to build some pressure on the Goan side with swift raids, but Goa’s defence led by Joseph Clemente stood tall to keep their side safe.
On crossing over, Lalawmpuia should have doubled the lead for Goa in the 54th minute, when he was set up by skipper Carneiro with a pinpoint cross from the left, but the U-21 forward failed to control the ball with just rival keeper Roy to beat.
Meanwhile, Abranches also had a chance to inflate Goa’s lead in the 57th minute, as the forward was in a commanding position after getting a cross from Lalawmpuia, but he failed to control his shot from inside the box with just keeper Roy to beat.
Madhya Pradesh who required a draw to qualify for the final phase, took over the match in the last 30 minutes, as they dominated their opponents with better attacking play. But, none of their forays managed to damage Goa’s defence, as custodian Tyson Caiado made some brilliant saves and interceptions to book a place in the final round.