Santosh Trophy: Karnataka seals dramatic semi-final with Kerala | football news

MALAPPURAM (Kerala): Karnataka scored a convincing 4-0 win over Gujarat on Monday and set up a semifinal match against hosts Kerala at the 75th Santosh Trophy on Monday.
In the last day’s league games, Odisha needed only a draw to confirm their place in the semi-finals but they were at their best and lost 2-0 to former champions Services in the afternoon to give Karnataka a breather.
The math leading up to that final Group B game was simple: Karnataka had to win by a minimum of three goals.
Karnataka accepted the challenge and produced an exceptional first half with their forwards Sudheer Kotikela (12′, 29′) and Kamalesh P (28′) practically sealing their chance within the first half hour.
Magesh Silva (60′) then completed the defeat to secure entry into the last four where they will have a tough test against hosts Kerala on April 28.
32-time record champions Bengal meet Manipur in the other semi-final on April 29.
Gujarat were barely allowed to breathe for the first 30 minutes as Karnataka launched a wave of attacks on his rival’s goal.
They finally took the lead from a half-cleared corner when Kotikela found himself with the ball on the edge of the box before rolling the ball into the top right corner.
Kamalesh took a square pass from D Arun Kumar on the edge of Gujarat territory, switching feet and edging past Harshil Parekh and Muhammed Sagar Ali for the perfect finish.
They secured their crucial third within a minute when Prashanth Kalinga ran wide on the right and curled a superb cross into Karnataka’s box.
Kotikela was pinched by two defenders and netted for the first time.
On the hour, a D Arun Kumar cross down the left dropped the ball perfectly for Magesh Selva to complete the score.
Services empty Odisha 2-0
Previously, Services had scored goals each from Vivek Kumar and Nikhil Sharma in the second half to end his Santosh Trophy campaign with a 2-0 win over the 10-man Odisha.
Odisha needed just a draw to reach the semi-finals as Group B’s second team to Manipur and wasted plenty of chances, especially in the first half.
Services, coached by Priya Darshan, broke the deadlock in the 74th minute with a header from captain Vivek. He rose highest to nod the ball into the bottom corner. Odisha keeper Chinmaya Sekhar Behera got his hands on the ball but couldn’t parry it.
Eight minutes later, Odisha failed to clear her lines and substitute Sharma shot into the net for the first time.
The signs of frustration were clear and Odisha was reduced to 10 players in the 87th minute with Abhishek Rawat’s late tackle against Deepak Singh.

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