Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: Marcus Mascarenhas helped himself to a hat-trick, as former champion Goa made it to the semifinals from Group B in style with a flattering 5-0 win over Maharashtra at the Nehru stadium on Sunday.

Considering that Maharashtra had no stake in the group having already lost its earlier two matches, the expectation was that the team would play with freedom and give Goa a tough fight.

Instead, it was a lacklustre Maharashtra that was on view and it made things fairly easy for its rival. Worse was its decision to bring on Amit Nandi as the goalkeeper in place of the regular Arup Debnath, and the former’s poor judgement added to Maharashtra’s misery.

Beevan strikes

Goa could not have asked for an easier way to get into the last four. In the 20th minute, Beevan D. Mello signalled the lack of motivation in the Maharashtra ranks with a back-headed goal off a flag kick by Nicholas Colaco.

Ten minutes later, Beevan again found the path to the goal again with a deft body dodge from the top of the box to make the most of the uncertainty in Nandi’s approach.

Goa utilised the settings to test its attacking patterns, mostly worked out using the width of the pitch. Square-passing and occasional diagonals were the features, but more important was the positional play.

For a player like Marcus, who has commendable ball sense and thrives on the rival’s mistakes, the occasion was perfect to hone his goal-scoring skills. With support from his colleagues, Marcus slotted in his three-in-a row, starting with a right-foot touch in the 35th minute.

The result: Goa 5 (Beevan D’Mello 20’ & 30’, Marcus Mascarenhas 35’, 55’ & 90’) bt Maharashtra 0.

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