Odisha 3-3 Karnataka
The opening game of Group B in the final round of the 75th Santosh Trophy at the Kottappadi Football Stadium was an exhilarating encounter as Odisha and Karnataka played out a 3-3 draw. Odisha got their noses in front but Karnataka struck back with three goals, putting themselves 3-1 up in the game. However, it was Odisha who had the last laugh as they levelled the scores.
It was Odisha who started brightly of the two, putting Karnataka on the back foot right from the start. Their high press awarded them the lead in the 15th minute. Chandra Muduli played in a perfect low cross to find Jamir Oram to convert easily. Karnataka stepped up their game after going down and almost found their equaliser when Sudheer Kotikela narrowly put wide a shot/cross from Prashanth. At the half-hour mark though, Karnataka were able to find their equaliser through Sudheer, who made amends for his earlier miss with a simple tap-in from an inch-perfect cross by Prashanth Kalinga.
Three minutes later, the Southern state turned the game on its head. Bavu Nishad gained possession high up in Odisha’s half, unleashing a fierce shot which was deflected into the back of the net. Kamalesh proved to be a menace keeping Odisha’s defense busy with his dribbles and crosses. He even stole a ball in the opposition half only to see his shot go wide. Odisha failed to get a grip on the game after their opening goal, losing the ball frequently in midfield. The first half ended with Karnataka in the ascendancy.
Odisha started the second half in the same fashion as they did the first. A long throw from Abhishek Rawat was flicked on by a blue shirt onto the crossbar. Karnataka’s Arun Kumar then drilled a powerful free-kick which skipper Sekhar Behara saved. Odisha got a chance on the other end with Chandra Muduli again making a run but failing to link up with Raisen Tudu in a dangerous position. Just past the hour mark, Karnataka made it 3-1 with Sudheer getting his second after Behara failed to keep his powerful drive away.
Odisha got back into the game soon after from a mistake in the Karnataka defence. A corner from the right fell kindly to Bikash Kumar Sahoo’s head who guided the ball back into the net with the defenders stranded. Karnataka kept attacking though, with Kamalesh hitting the woodwork.
Moments later, Odisha leveled the scores in stunning fashion. Muduli slammed his effort into the top right corner of the net from a counter. Eventually, Karnataka were made to rue the missed chances that felt to them. Odisha keeper Chinmaya Sekhar Bahara pulled out one last save from substitute Ankith’s dipping long shot to prevent any more goals on the day.
Odisha will take on Manipur in their next outing in the 75th Santosh Trophy while Karnataka will hope to do the same against Gujurat, with both games scheduled on Tuesday, 19 April 2022.
Manipur 3-0 Services
Manipur served up the big upset of the 75th Hero Santosh Trophy so far by beating defending champions Services 3-0 in their group encounter here, today. The scoreline was an accurate representation of the desire, hunger and creativity Manipur displayed through the ninety minutes to outplay the defending champions off the park.
Manipur started stronger, pressing Services on the ball and forcing errors in midfield. In the 5th minute, Ngulgoulal Singsit overhit a pass towards Thiyam Chingkheinganba’s run on the left channel inside the box. Despite losing the ball though, Manipur refused to give up on it inside the box, Lunminlen Haokip forcing an error from the Services defence and then laying the ball perfectly in the path of an onrushing N Jenish Singh, who hit it first time into the top far corner of goal. Bhabindra Malla Thakuri had no chance, and Manipur had the lead.
From there, Services slowly grew into the game, holding possession better, using the flanks and creating more in the final third. Pintu Mahata was at the centre of most of it, teeing up the flanks for the Services wingers to drill into the box. Too often though, the chances were astray. Manipur were content to play on the counter, comfortable in the knowledge they had the lead and enough firepower to trouble their opponents when needed.
Services’ best opportunity came right before the half hour as Mahata chased and won a long hopeful ball from the back by B Sunil. His cross was met by Ronaldo Singh, who dummied his way past the first defender before letting fly a weak shot, off target, that was nonetheless parried to safety by Md Abujar in Manipur’s goal.
As the teams went into the break, Manipur led by a single goal, while Services, despite holding a majority of the possession, had managed no shots on target at all.
Gift Raikhan’s words at halftime were probably directed at Manipur’s forwards, asking them for more energy, and right from the restart his players delivered. They swarmed over Services to turn over possession quickly and forced errors at regular intervals. From a deep corner in the 50th minute, Lunminlen Haokip rose highest at the far post to rocket in a header and double their lead. Services were in shock, and soon it would get worse. Manipur held possession, and strangled them for space.
In the 75th came the third goal, Jenish Singh, hassling and winning the ball in midfield to release Thokchom Manichand Singh through on goal, with only the keeper to beat. Before Manichand could pull the trigger though, B Sunil poked his foot through, as the ball ended up in the bottom corner, an own goal that confirmed Manipur’s victory and sent Services back to the drawing board. The defending champions have been shocked and the tournament has been thrown open.