Herald: Goa’s title dream fades away
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Goa’s title dream fades away

12 Mar 2016 06:29am IST
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12 Mar 2016 06:29am IST
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AGENCIES, NAGPUR: A dominant Services beat Goa by a solitary goal to book a spot in the final of the 70th National Championships for the Santosh Trophy at the SEC Railways Stadium, Nagpur, on Friday.

AGENCIES, NAGPUR: A dominant Services beat Goa by a solitary goal to book a spot in the final of the 70th National Championships for the Santosh Trophy at the SEC Railways Stadium, Nagpur, on Friday.

The match should have been settled long back had Services capitalised on their chances but perseverance eventually paid off in the 115th minute when in a desperate attempt to clear, Mohammed Ali kicked it into his own net. The extra-time was enforced after both the teams were deadlocked after regulation time.

Services looked more organised with someone always present to support the other. Vivek Kumar and Francis Zoununtluangn rotated in the midfield with local boy Hardik Kanojia providing able assistance.

Man-of-the-Match Arjun Tudu, who was summoned by National Coach Stephen Constantine for the National Camp prior to the SAFF Cup, proved to be a constant thorn for the Goan team. He impressed with his speed, relentless pressing and never say die attitude.

Goa despite boasting of four International players in their ranks weren’t able to match their opponents. They relied more on counters to catch them unaware.

Meanwhile, a minute’s silence was observed prior to the kick-off in memory of former India International Amar Bahadur Gurung who passed away on Wednesday.

The first shot on target came in the 5th minute. Vivek cut in from the left and his diagonal shot despite beating a diving Laxmikant Kattimani bounced off the post.

In the dying minutes of the first half, Services created another opening when a brilliant one-two between Francis and Anthony saw the latter sneak in but his shot went straight to Kattimani.

Immediately after the changeover, Vivek found him free inside the box but that slight moment of hesitation allowed Rowlison Rodrigues to recover and clear. And the very next minute Tudu’s drop-volley was collected on second attempt by Kattimani.

Services continued their domination and from thereafter it was almost one-way traffic. But it didn’t materialize into a goal as the Services forwards either fumbled or were a bit reluctant to pull the trigger.

In the extra time, two chances fell to the two teams in the first two minutes itself. First, the triangle of Francis, Milagres and Nickson Casanha split opened the Services’ defence but Nickson couldn’t finish it off – his weak push not troubling Shibin. And off the counter-attack, Vivek failed to head it into an empty net.

With a sizeable crowd watching from the stands, Services looked the fitter of the two teams as it progressed. Perhaps everyone was expecting the tie-breaker but Ali’s own goal made the difference.

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