Goals from Baltej Singh and Jitender Rawat combined with brilliance from goalkeeper Moses Anthony guided the northerners to victory.

The battle between the teams is becoming more fierce as Punjab took on Karnataka in a very crucial Group B clash at the Sailen Mann Sports Complex in Howrah. It was a very important match for both sides as Mizoram have already qualified from the group and both the teams had to fight it out for the last spot in the semi-finals.

Watch: Punjab 2-1 Karnataka highlights

The match started with both teams trying to keep possession, but loose passing from both sides was hindering the creation of good chances. Although, the start wasn’t great but Karnataka did find their luck early on, as Leon Augustine was brought down by Punjab defender Sunny and the referee pointed towards the spot. Karnataka had the chance to strike first blood through a penalty. Man in form Rajesh stepped up and slotted it in the top left corner giving Karnataka the early advantage in the match.

Punjab needed to make a comeback as this match was do-or-die for them because of their recent defeat to group leaders Mizoram. The northerners were patient in the build-up and were looking for loopholes to breach the Karnataka defence. Baltej Singh’s surging run down the middle looked very dangerous until Karnataka defender Keith Stephen brought him down just outside the box. It was a chance for Punjab to restore parity from the free-kick, but the shot was wayward.

From there, the Punjab players found their rhythm and Baltej who is in scintillating form again took on the defenders and somehow managed to take a shot from a very tight angle. Karnataka goalkeeper Shain Khan CP couldn’t hold on to the shot from the forward and the rebound fell kindly for Jitender Rawat who scored on the follow-up. Punjab were back in the game as the equaliser gave them a certain amount on confidence on the ball.

Punjab were dominating the match but Karnataka had some half chances through Augustine who was brilliant down the right flank. But, poor passing and giving away the ball cheaply in dangerous areas cost Karnataka as a cross from the right flank caught the Karnataka defence off guard.  Baltej who was there right in front of goal calmly slotted the ball home giving Punjab a well-deserved lead.

Punjab had more chances to increase the lead when a run down the left flank was spotted by Jitender Rawat and the left-back’s excellent cross found Jaskaranpreet inside the box, but the midfielder’s shot went wide from close range. Karnataka also had a chance right at the end of the first half, when Rajesh’s shot was deflected but Punjab shot-stopper Moses Anthony held on brilliantly. 

Karnataka started the second half pretty well, as they were putting constant pressure on the Punjab defence and were looking for that opening. Rajesh and Augustine were combining brilliantly and were creating a lot of chances, but the Punjab defence stood tall whenever required. 

Punjab were very cautious with their movement and were looking to attack on the counter. Meanwhile, Karnataka came agonizingly close to scoring again when Liton Shil’s shot from the edge of the box forced an excellent reflex save from Punjab custodian Anthony. Minutes later, Liton was again in action when he found space in the final third. This time his shot left the custodian helpless, but the ball skimmed the crossbar and went over. 

Karnataka were putting serious pressure on the Punjab defence and it seemed like the equaliser was just around the corner. Karnataka kept testing the Punjab defence when Rajesh and Liton combined well and the latter took a powerful shot inside the box, but the Punjabi wall under the bar was again present to parry the danger.

Karnataka gave their all in the second half but they were second best on the day, especially because of the heroics of Baltej Singh in the first half and Moses Anthony in the second half. Nevertheless, Punjab have now clawed their way back and earned a very important win after narrowly losing to Mizoram.

Also Read

Regardless of our qualification, we’ll push for a win- Stephen Constantine

Predicted XI, schedule and more: India take on Kyrgyz Republic in AFC Asian Cup qualifier

Indian Football Team of the Season: Evergreen Chhetri, Subrata lead nation’s breakout stars

A hat-trick of goals, as well as assists from Victorino Fernandes, helped Goa register a thumping 6-1 win over Odisha on Monday (March 26, 2018) at the Mohun Bagan ground in the ongoing 72ndSantosh Trophy. The Goan skipper scored the first hat-trick of the tournament to keep his team in the race for a semi-final spot.

Goa dominated proceedings and were hungry for goals right from the beginning. Victorino scored the opening goal of the match in the 15th minute. Mackroy Peixeto curled a corner inside the box which was headed in by the veteran striker.

Odisha came back with a prompt reply as they equalised within a minute of Goa’s goal. Arbin Lakra floated a cross inside the box which was kept in play by Bhabagrahi Padhihary, Sunil Sardar received the ball and found the back of the net.

Odisha came back strongly after scoring the equaliser and were attacking in numbers. They created several chances and were in control of the game. But Goa came back at the stroke of half-time as Victorino netted the ball in from Nestor Dias’ cross.

Goa clinched an easy win against Odisha on Monday

The second goal proved to be a confident booster as Armando’s men went all guns blazing in the second half. The intensity in Odisha’s game completely vanished as Goa ran riot.

The Goan captain completed his hat-trick in the 54th minute from Clinton Niasso’s pass. Machroy Peixito scored the fourth goal of the match in the 59th minute. Fernades flicked the ball above the entire Odisha backline and Peixito followed it inside the box. From a one on one position, he found the back of the net.

Goa’s attacking approach after four goals yielded them two more in the 71st and 85th minute. The fifth goal was scored by Shubert Jonas Perriera who followed a through ball from his captain and slotted the ball home.

Marcus Mascarenhas hit the final nail on Odisha’s coffin and once again the assist was provided by none other than Goa’s captain fantastic.

Goa’s big win today take them to three points. They need to win their final match against Punjab on March 28th and hope Mizoram beat Karnataka on the same day to qualify for the semis.