After struggling for a major part of the 76th Santosh Trophy National football championships’ final phase, defending champion Kerala defeated host Odisha 1-0 in Bhubaneswar on Friday and is now in with a chance to travel to Riyadh to play the semifinals.
Nijo Gilbert scored Kerala’s match-winner with a 16th-minute penalty.
Meanwhile Punjab, which leads the six-team Group ‘A’ with 10 points, brushed aside Goa 3-1 while Karnataka drew with Maharashtra 3-3, a result which has now offered hope to Kerala.
Karnataka is second in the group with eight points while Kerala has seven and the final set of matches on Sunday will decide the two semifinalists from the group.
The results (Group A): Kerala 1 (Nijo Gilbert 16-p) bt Odisha 0.
Karnataka 3 (Robin Yadav 45+4-p, P. Ankith 61, Shajan Franklin 9+11) drew with Maharashtra 3 (Johnson Mathews 14, Armash Ansari 55 & 60).
Punjab 3 (Nickson Castanha 20-og, Rohit Sheikh 74 & 80) bt Goa 1 (Clencio Pinto 88).