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Railways versus Mizoram in final

Calcutta: It’s a first for Mizoram.

The H.V. Vanlalthlanga-coached side booked their maiden Santosh Trophy final berth defeating Tamil Nadu 3-1, at the Kanchenjunga Stadium, in Siliguri, on Friday afternoon.

Some shoddy goalkeeping by Tamil Nadu goalkeeper Arun Pradeep coupled with a spirited second half display helped Mizoram’s cause. Mizoram will face Railways in Sunday’s summit clash.

In the other semi-final, Railways beat Maharashtra 4-2 on penalties after the match ended 1-1 in regulation time. Railways goalkeeper Ehtesham Ahmed made two fine saves at the start of the penalty shootout to deny Maharashtra’s Praneel Mendon and Vijith Shetty, gaining an upper hand over their rivals.

Railways’ P.C. Riju, Raju Singh, Dipankar Das and Susil Kisku all converted their spot-kicks, leaving Paresh Shivalkar and Linekar Machado’s conversions meaningless. Earlier, Mohammed Shafique gave Maharashtra the lead in the 24th minute, while Railways’ Susil Kisku came off the bench to equalise through a penalty in the 70th minute.

Coming back to the first semi-final, Tamil Nadu had taken the lead right at the stroke of half-time through A. Raegan. But midway into the second session, goalkeeper Pradeep failed to gather substitute David Lalrinmuana’s long-ranger and the match went into extra-time.

And then, opportunistic strikes from Zico Zoremsanga and substitute F Lalrinpuia sealed Tamil Nadu’s fate.

The goalkeeper was again at fault during Mizoram’s second goal. While he erred in judging the flight of David’s 35-yard drive, the second one saw him rooted to the goalline inside the six-yard area.

After the match a delighted Vanlalthlanga said: “It is a great moment for Mizoram. This is the first time we are in the final and I feel the boys deserved it for their brilliant effort. “Tamil Nadu did very well to contain us in the first half. They played good football. But I am glad the boys came back strongly after the break.”

The match started at a slow pace in the opening exchanges. In the 18th minute, Tamil Nadu’s P. Sudhakar pinched the ball off a Mizoram defender to set up Raegan, but the latter could only manage a tame effort straight into the hands of goalkeeper Lalawpuia.

Sudhakar was in the thick of things again four minutes later, clipping the ball beautifully for Raegan who found right-winger S. Karthick inside the box. But Karthick failed to connect.