Mizoram came out as the most consistent performer of the group league stage thrashing defending champion Services 4-1 and became the first team to book a semifinal berth in the 68th National football championship for the Santosh Trophy at Siliguri on Sunday.
Maharashtra followed Mizoram into the last four when it beat last year’s runner-up Kerala by a solitary goal in the other match.
Allan Dias scored the winner in the 77th minute to help Maharashtra pick up the full quota of points.
It was the third successive win for the North-East giant as it topped the group with 9 points with a match still in hand. Maharashtra too tallied 9 points from three wins and a loss, but having lost to Mizoram earlier in the league, had to settle for second spot.
Kerala, with just one win and three points, crashed out of the tournament.
K.C. Lalchhuanmawia opened the scoring in the 27th minute before Zico Zoremsanga doubled the lead six minutes later, making the most of a David Lalrinmuana pass.
Arjun Tudu pulled one back for Services when he finished a midfield lob with a fine half-volley in the 43rd minute.
But Mizoram did not let go the initiative and scored two more goals through V. Laltanpuia and Lalbiakhlua after the interval to take the game away from the holder.
Mizoram, which has still one more match to go, has won all its three matches to tally nine points and tops the group. Services is almost out of the contest after managing just three points from a win and two losses.
With the top two positions decided and semifinalists identified, the last round of group league fixtures scheduled on Tuesday — where Kerala takes on Services and Mizoram meets Uttarakhand — are now rendered inconsequential.
The results: Group-A: Mizoram 4 (K.C. Lalchhuanmawia 27, Zico Zoremsanga 32, V. Laltanpuia 71, Lalbiakhlua 87) bt Services 1 (Arjun Tudu 43).
Maharashtra 1 (Allan Dias 77) bt Kerala 0.