Goa pips MP, qualifies
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.
Goa coach Samir Naik made one change bringing back Glan Martins, replacing injured Peter Carvalho. Madhya Pradesh coach Ashrujit Chatterjee chose to field the same Xi which earned him victories in last two matches against Lakshadweep and Daman & Diu.
In a must-win match, Goa started on attacking note and took 30 seconds to rattle the Madhya Pradesh defense as Joaquim went for the glory from inside the box but his shot was blocked by rival midfielder Akash Bhabore.
A few minutes later, the former champions made another swift attack from the left and this time Glan tried to find Abranches with a curling low cross but Madhya Pradesh keeper Abhijit Roy came off the line to clear the danger on time.
Goa had the best chance in the 18th minutes when they were awarded a free-kick just outside the 18-yard box where skipper Jessel Carneiro saw his sparkling shot blocked by opponent’s custodian Roy, however, unmarked Goan defender Meldon D’Silva shot wide from close with no opponent around.
Goa finally managed to break the deadlock in the 23rd minute when skipper Jessel made a superb through pass to Lalawmpuia who covered some ground and curled it to well-placed Abranches in the box. The 33-year-old forward brilliantly tapped the ball home from 6-yards to put his side ahead.
Madhya Pradesh regrouped after conceding the goal and came with few attacks on the rivals but could not manage to break Goa’s defense. Their midfielder Bhabore tried to build some pressure on the Goan side with swift raids but Goa’s defense led by Joseph Clemente stood tall to keep their side safe.
On crossing over, Lalawmpuia could have doubled the lead for Goa in the 54th minute when he was set up by skipper Carneiro with pin-point cross from the left but the U-21 forward failed to control the ball with just rival keeper Roy at stake.
Abranches also had a chance to inflate Goa’s lead in the 57th minute as he was in the 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 with a better attacking index but none of their attacks managed to damage Goa’s defense as Goan custodian Tyson Caiado made some brilliant saves and interceptions to help Goa book a place in the final round.