It was a goal-feast for the sparse gathering at the Nehru Stadium, as 18 goals were scored in two matches, in the South Zone phase of the Santosh Trophy National football championship here on Thursday.

While Andaman and Nicobar’s loss was expected, a 10-1 defeat against Tamil Nadu, the unexpected was Karnataka’s 5-2 win over Andhra Pradesh. Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are tied on six points each after two wins in as many matches.

Fresh from a fighting display against Kerala the other day, Andhra could show only spells of it against a determined bunch of Karnataka players. Experience pays and much credit should go to the seasoned Xavier Vijayakumar, who did an effective play-making for Karnataka. He scored once with a neat piece of opportunism, after seeing goalkeeper Hari Babu rushing out and placing the ball past him, well past the hour. By then Karnataka had already gone ahead 3-1.

However, it was Andhra which had forged ahead after winning a spot kick when the rival custodian Thomas tripped Mohd. Saleemoddin in the danger area. Mohd. Mouzzam converted (16th minute) but the roles then changed.

Settling down to a good pace and passing, Karnataka kept finding holes in the rival defence. In the 28th minute, Saleemoddin became a culprit by bringing down Xavier Anto and conceded a penalty. Anto slotted the equaliser. Next minute, Don Bosco made the most of a defence lapse to volley past Hari Babu.

Vijayakumar then came into his own and with several measured crosses unsettled the Andhra backline. Anto headed in with one such cross (51st) and then Vignesh profited from a Vijayakumar inter-play to stretch the lead to 5-1.

It was only towards the end that Andhra seemed to recharge and the now familiar sight of a Tatam Naidu throw-in helped Khaleel to re-enact that effort of an earlier match with a header (79th).

Goal deluge

Earlier Tamil Nadu’s entry brought in the drums and cheers that were never to die as a goal deluge followed from the 15th minute. Raegan (three), substitute Ameeruddin (three), Santha Kumar (penalty), Charles Anandaraj (penalty), Vikram Vishwas Patil and Sathish scored for the host. Andamans got its first goal in the championship, thanks to a Shibu Bernard penalty.

Matches would resume on Saturday. Meanwhile, in change to the schedule for February 3, the last day, the Kerala versus Karnataka match would precede the Tamil Nadu-AP fixture.

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