Karnataka and Bihar warmed up for the key clash with easy wins in the third round of cluster ‘B’ matches at the 67th Santosh Trophy football championships in Kollam on Saturday. Karnataka routed a hapless Arunachal Pradesh 8-0 and boosted its chances of a quarterfinal berth, as Bihar could only register a 4-1 win over the lowly Daman & Diu.

Though both teams registered their third win of the tournament, the former is sitting pretty on a better goal average, and a draw would be enough for Karnataka to qualify as the teams meet in the last round on Monday.

V. Stephen scored his second hat-trick of the tournament, while in-form strikers Rajesh and Amoses helped themselves to braces as Karnataka recorded the biggest victory in the tournament so far.

First, Stephen set up Rajesh, who scored with a neat finish in the 17th minute. Stephen was once again involved, this time being fouled by Arunachal goalkeeper Tadu Taka, and the resultant penalty was coolly slotted home by the striker himself in the 21st minute.

Rajesh scored his second with a piledriver, from just outside the box in the 30th minute, and Stephen increased the tally in the 34th by nodding in a corner from Lokesh.

After missing several chances early in the second half, Karnataka again scored in the 61st minute through Amoses. Lokesh too got into the goal-scoring act in the 71st minute.

In the 75th, Amoses dispossessed an Arunachal defender and broke into the box from the right to score his team’s seventh. Stephen completed his hat-trick in the 88th.

Daman & Diu swept aside

Daman & Diu defended with gusto and managed to keep a clean slate at half-time. The Daman side briefly held the lead as Haresh K. Golar scored off a counterattack in the 49th minute. The goal saw a spate of moves from Bihar and it took only four minutes for it to find the equaliser as Daman goalkeeper Miranda fouled Samu. The resultant penalty was converted by Afzal Khan.

Two minutes later, substitute Faiyaz Alam headed in a cross from Ujawal Gari to increase Bihar’s tally. Samu Hembrom slammed in a third in the 79th, while Ujawal Gari completed the tally in the 88th.

The results: Karnataka 8 (V. Stephen 21, 30, 88, S. Rajesh 17, 34, Amoses 61, 75, Lokesh 71) bt Arunachal Pradesh 0; Bihar 4 (Mohd. Afzal Khan 53, Mohd. Faiyaz Ahmed 55, Samu Hembrom 79, Ujawal Gari 88) bt Daman & Diu 1 (Haresh K.Golar 49).

Sunday’s matches: Cluster ‘A’: Himachal Pradesh vs Jharkhand, Gujarat vs Chandigarh.

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