| Midfield action in the Goa vs Karnataka match in Imphal Wednesday. Goa won 2-1. (PTI)
Imphal: Goa and hosts Manipur completed the semi-final line-up of the 58th Santosh Trophy on Wednesday.
In the day’s first match, Goa overcame a spirited Karnataka 2-1 while the hosts held Tamil Nadu 2-2 but made the cut as group D toppers with a better goal difference.
Defending champions Kerala and Services are already in the last four. The first semi-final will be between Kerala and Services on Friday and the second between Goa and Manipur the next day at the Khuman Lampak main stadium.
Incidentally, Manipur have made it to the semi-finals of the Santosh Trophy for the first time since they started participating in 1973.
On Wednesday, despite the absence of striker Alvito D’Cunha — expelled during the match against Punjab after scoring the winner — Goa came out with flying colours.
They took an early lead through a penalty shot by midfielder Jules Dias Alberto in the 4th minute after Man of the Match Menino Fernandes was tripped by Karnataka defender Parameshwaran.
After missing some opportunities Goa increased the tally in the 38th minute when a cross from Savio Pareira was fired home by Sukhdev Arvade to lead 2-0 at the interval.
Karnataka’s increased tempo after the break yielded result when Parameshwaran converted an opportunity set up by midfielder Jagdish Kumar and striker S.K. Dayananda. After this, the Goan defence snapped shut and stymied all Karnataka’s efforts to reach a 2-2 scoreline.
The Goa coach Norbert Gonsalves praised his boys’ performance despite the absence of D’Cunha. The striker will play only if Goa make it to the final.
The organisers’ decision to suspend him for two matches was conveyed to Goa officials this morning.
In the second nail-biting match, an over-confident Manipur initially suffered a jolt when Tamil Nadu scored within the 6th minute. Off P. Muthu, a sweeping Kulothungan hit a powerful shot into the net.
Manipur restored parity in the 24th minute when N. Uttam headed in beautifully off an L. Uttam throw-in. The two teams were locked 1-1 at the breather.
The hosts were the dominant side in the second half and went ahead in the 70th minute when striker Tiken Singh headed in a cross from medio Manitombi Singh. Tamil Nadu equalised in the dying minutes through K.Kumaravel.
The excitement of the uncontrollable crowd was heightened when referee M.K Roy flashed cards liberally, including two red cards at Tamil Nadu’s F. Jegan in the first half and Kulothungan in the second.
Mohun Bagan’s Rennedy Singh set up several opportunities for the hosts, but they went abegging because of aimless strikes. Another Manipur player Bijen Singh, top-scorer in the meet with nine goals was not impressive on the day.
Despite being depleted by the loss of the two players, Tamil Nadu put up a good fight that held the Manipur strikers at bay. Manipur midfielder Sanaton was adjudged Man of the Match.
l Kerala vs Services (Friday)
l Goa vs Manipur (Saturday)