Tamil Nadu kept its hopes alive for a semifinal place by staging a comeback to defeat Jharkhand 3-2 in a Group ‘B’ quarterfinal league match at the Lal Bahadur Stadium here on Sunday.
Former champion Maharashtra however, made a strong bid for the lone semifinal place by recording its second straight win in Group ‘B’ with a 3-0 win over Goa.
Maharashtra’s win means that Tamil Nadu will have to beat Maharasthra when the two teams meet in the last round of the quarterfinal league on Tuesday. Goa and Jharkhand are out of the tournament.
Tamil Nadu desperately needed a win to stay alive in the competition. But it was lucky to post a win against a smarter and hungrier young Jharkhand side.
Things started ominously for Tamil Nadu with captain K. Satish making a goalline clearance in the seventh minute to prevent Kamaldeep Singh's shot from entering the net after the Jharkhand player had managed to squeeze the ball past advancing goalkeeper Arun Pradeep.
Tamil Nadu had the first look at the rival goal only in the 27th minute when P. Sudhakar headed the ball into the goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh's body. Gurpreet recovered to palm away the rebound for a corner.
Jharkhand went ahead in the very next minute through a fast counter-attack with Bidhan Mandi finding the net with a low shot.
For Tamil Nadu S. Karthik scored the equaliser from close after being in position to tap in a precise cross from A. Raegan.
Raegen capped a fine day for him by putting Tamil Nadu ahead in the 69th minute.
L. Charles Anandrai found the back of the net with a rasping shot from inside the box in the 85th minnute. But Bishwajith Sardar reduced the margin for Jharkhand in the 89th minute.
For Maharashtra its experienced campaigners Mohammed Rafi and N.P. Pradeep came to the fore as the former champion blanked Goa 3-0.
After a barren first half, Mohammed Rafi scored the opening goal. Rafi outsprinted two defenders to reach a long ball lobbed into his path from the middle and scored from top of the box with a powerful right-footer in the 54th minute. N.P. Pradeep, who was chosen as the man-of-the-match, doubled the lead with a brilliant 25-yard free-kick in the 61st minute.
Preenel Mendon completed the tally by scoring off a goal-mouth melee in the 76th minute.
The results: Tamil Nadu 3 (S. Karthik 39, A. Raegan 69, Charles Anandarai 85) bt Jharkhand 2 (Bidhan Mandi 28, Bishwajit Sardar 85); Maharasthra 3 (Mohammed Rafi 54, N.P. Pradeep 61, Preenel Mendon 76) bt Goa 0. Monday's matches: Group ‘D’: Punjab v West Bengal; Karnataka v Manipur.
Keywords: Tamil Nadu- Jharkhand football match