69th Santosh Trophy: Punjab beat Maharashtra, Kerala beat Railways
The last two matches of Santosh Trophy Group Stage saw Punjab blank Maharashtra 2-1 in Group A, while Kerala registered a solitary goal win over Railways in Group B.
With a win necessary to progress, Punjab started the final fixture of Group A on an attacking note. The Punjab contingent displayed the art of beautiful football, but lacked the pivotal touch, but fortune smiled upon Punjab in the 41st minute, when Taranjit Singh essayed in a cross for Sunny, who volleyed the ball into the net. Punjab led by a solitary goal at the interval.
Maharashtra were handed a blow in the 60th minute, as they went a man down, as Karan Atwal was given the marching orders. Within six minutes of playing with a man down, the Maharashtra team conceded another Sunny goal, as Punjab's goal-scorer headed home his opportunity. In the dying moments of the match, Maharashtra garnered a penalty, as Punjab’s Arshdeep hacked down the Maharashtrian striker’ footings.
Skipper Vijith Shetty, halved Maharashtra’s deficit, but in a classic case of too-little-too-late, Punjab snatched a 2-1 victory and progressed into the semifinals.
In Group B, Kerala defeated Railways by a solitary goal scored in the 90th minute of the match by Usman Ashik K., who crafted his way into the opponents' defence and unleashed a venomous shot past the Railways goalkeeper.