Santosh Trophy
Karnataka come from two down to rescue a point against Mizoram; Delhi log full points
24 Feb 2024

AIFF Media Team

YUPIA, ARUNACHAL PRADESH: Defending champions Karnataka came from two goals down to draw 2-2 against Mizoram in Group B of the 77th National Football Championship for Santosh Trophy Final Round at the Golden Jubilee Stadium in Yupia on Saturday, February 24, 2024.

Mizoram were seemingly running away with the three points after goals from MS Dawngliana and MC Malsawmzuala had put them in a commanding position. But Karnataka showed the champion spirit to score twice in quick succession in the second half through Prabin Tigga and Vishal R to rescue a point. This was Karnataka's second consecutive draw after a 1-1 result against Delhi on Thursday. Mizoram were beaten 1-3 by Maharashtra in the opener and have now opened their tally.

Mizoram took the lead after a sensational move between Malsawmzuala and Dawngliana. With a superb behind-the-back flick, the former picked out the latter, who lashed a parabolic shot into the goal with a cleanly-hit half-volley. The 2014 champions could've extended their lead in the 34th minute had R Malsawmtluanga not flashed his first-time shot wide. In the very next minute, however, he was involved at the other end, making a crucial goal-line block to deny D Sheltohn Paul from equalising.

Mizoram were off the blocks quicker again in the second half and doubled their lead after another brilliant build-up. Winger Lalthankima got the better of Tigga with some exquisite footwork before cutting it in from the by-line. Arriving at the end of the cross was Malsawmzuala, who drove it into the bottom corner with a first-time shot.

But Karnataka were not done and dusted. Ravi Babu Raju's side struck twice in two minutes to turn the game on its head. In the 67th minute, Nikhil Raj's cross from a free-kick slipped through the gloves of F Lalmuanawma and Tigga was on hand at the back post to bundle it in. Then, Sathish Kumar set up Vishal R with a great through ball into the final third. The latter took his time and slotted it in, wrongfooting Lalmuanawma.

Both teams did not look satisfied with a point and there were chances at both ends in the latter stages, but none of them materialised. Karnataka defended solidly, with captain Manoj Swamy Kannan and Prashanth Kalinga making well-timed tackles on Vanlalbiaa Chhangte and Dawngliana, respectively to keep Mizoram at bay. Karnataka came close to winning it in the 81st minute when Nikhil and BS Mrinal Muthanna played a smooth one-two near the edge of the box before the former sent his curling effort inches above the bar.

Manipur leave it late against Maharashtra
In the afternoon kick-off, Manipur struck two minutes from time to eke out their first win of the final round. Defender Ningombam Kabiraj Singh unleashed a spectacular swerving strike from almost 35 yards out to seal the three points in style. Azfar Noorani's header from a looping Satish Hawaldar cross had opened the scoring for Maharashtra in the 14th minute. It was cancelled out in the 40th minute as Rojen Meetei Wahengbam headed in Maibam Deny Singh's corner.

Delhi ease past Railways
Delhi got their first win of the final round as well, and they didn't have to break a sweat in the 4-0 thrashing of Railways. Vivek Kumar converted a Dhruv Sharma cross with a firm header to put the capital side ahead in the 34th minute. Early in the second half, Railways gave the ball away cheaply in their own box, and Delhi skipper Jaideep Singh capitalised with ease. In the 68th minute, Milind Negi headed in a corner before Jaideep struck again in the 76th minute, rounding up the scoring as he tapped in the rebound after Dhruv's long-ranger was saved by Raja Barman and fell onto his path.

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