By Debayan Mukherjee,
AIFF Media Team
SILIGURI: Railways edged Maharashtra 4-2 on penalties to reach the Final of the 68th Santosh Trophy after the match ended 1-1 in regulation time. They will now meet Mizoram in the summit clash at the Kanchenjunga Stadium in Siliguri on Sunday (March 9, 2014).
Railways goalkeeper Ehtesham Ahmed made two fine saves at the start of the shootout to deny Maharashtra’s Praneel Mendon and Vijith Shetty and gain an upper hand over their rivals. Railways’ PC Riju, Raju Singh, Dipankar Das and Susil Kisku all converted their spot kicks leaving Paresh Shivalkar and Linekar Machado’s takes meaningless.
In regulation time, Mohammed Shafique gave Maharashtra the lead in the 24th minute with Railways' Susil Kisku coming off the bench to equalise through a penalty in the 70th minute.
It stayed 1-1 after 90 minutes and extra time.
Maharashtra started the match strongly with right winger Shahbaz Pathan missing the target by a whisker.
The blue shirts turned on the heat from the word go keeping the rival defense on tenterhooks with regular forays inside the final third. The attacks were mostly from the left wing where Paresh Shivalkar used al his experience into play floating in some delightful crosses for lone striker Allan Dias.
Railways – on the back of a good 3-0 win against Goa just two days ago – looked rusty and slow off the blocks. The goal albeit befitting, came from bizarre circumstances. A low shot from near the halfway line by Mohammed Shafique saw the ball squirm past Railways goalkeeper Ehtesham Ahmed.
Striker PC Riju let Maharashtra go off the hook on a couple occasions in the dying minutes of the first half, not making the most of two defensive lapses on the edge of the box. He first took too much time to shoot and moments later skied his effort after collecting a loose ball on the edge of the area.
Railways’ best chance came ten minutes into the second half when substitute Susil Kisku’s free kick came off the horizontal. Another substitute Anil Kisku then turned well only to shoot awkwardly wide.
But the Kisku pair were handed a lifeline by Maharashtra custodian Praveen C who brought down Anil inside the area, and Susil sent the goalie the wrong way from the spot.
It was end to end stuff in the first half of extra time as both goalkeepers made some crucial saves. First it was Praveen’s turn to fist out Anil’s close range jab. At the other end Ehtesham made amends for his first half gaffe, spreading himself wide to deny Linekar Machado and substitute Sushant Bhivgade in quick succession.
Posted on : Friday March 07, 2014