Manjeri | Kerala defeated current runners-up Punjab by two goals to one to advance to the semi-finals of the Santosh Trophy Football Championship. Kerala entered the semi-finals as Group A champions with 10 points with three wins and a draw.
After a tense battle till the end of the first innings, Kerala defeated Punjab by a clear margin. Punjab scored the first goal in the 12th minute through Manveer Singh. Kerala reached the last four after scoring two goals through skipper Jijo Joseph. Kerala will take on Group B runners-up in the semi-finals on May 28 at 8 pm at Payyanad Stadium. With the defeat, Punjab’s semi-final entry was weighed.
First Golit Manveer
Punjab’s first goal came in the 12th minute from a defensive error by defender G Sanju. Punjab midfielder Manveer Singh smashed the ball into the back of the net. Manveer’s shot hit the goalie’s hand and went into the net. Then Kerala woke up and kept bringing the ball to Punjab’s box. In the 14th minute, Salman’s shot was saved by Punjab goalkeeper Harpreet Singh.
Punjab’s lead was short-lived. Kerala drew level in the 17th minute. Arjun Jayaraj’s rising cross from the right wing near the box was headed into the net by Jijo Joseph with a beautiful header. Score 1-1.
86th minute of the second half. From the left wing to Sanju’s cross near the box. Captain Jijo Joseph, who was out of sight of the Punjabi defense, took the ball. Clear the ball and Jijo’s shot goes straight into the net. The score was 2-1. One goal lead for Kerala.
Jijo scored the second goal of the game and the fifth goal of the tournament. Jijo is currently the top scorer in the tournament.