On Monday, Karnataka defeated Gujarat 4-0 to advance to the semifinals of the 75th Santosh Trophy, where they will face hosts Kerala. Odisha needed only a draw to secure a semi-final position on the penultimate day of league matches, but they were at their wasteful best and fell 0-2 to Services.
The math leading up to this last group B stage match was straightforward: Karnataka needed to win by at least three goals. Karnataka accepted the challenge and produced an outstanding first half, with forwards Sudheer Kotikela (12′, 29′) and Kamalesh P (28′) almost securing their chance within the first half-hour.
Magesh Silva (60′) sealed the thrashing, ensuring their advancement to the last-four, where they will face a tough test on April 28 against hosts Kerala. Bengal will face Manipur in the other semi-final on April 29. Bengal has won the tournament a record 32 times. Gujarat were barely able to breathe for the first 30 minutes as Karnataka launched a barrage of attacks on their opponent’s goal.
They ultimately seized the lead when Kotikela found himself with the ball on the edge of the box and curled the ball into the top right corner after a half-cleared corner. At the boundary of the Gujarat area, Kamalesh received a square pass from D Arun Kumar, swapped feet, and cut past Harshil Parekh and Muhammed Sagar Ali for a brilliant finish.
Prashanth Kalinga found space on the right side of the box and curled a wonderful cross into Karnataka’s box within a minute. Kotikela scored the first-time goal despite being surrounded by two defenders. A cross from D Arun Kumar on the left, just after the hour mark, dropped the ball perfectly for Magesh Selva to seal the tally.
Earlier, Services beat 10-man Odisha 2-0 in the Santosh Trophy, thanks to goals from Vivek Kumar and Nikhil Sharma in the second half. Odisha lost several chances, notably in the first half, when they only needed a draw to join Manipur in the semi-finals from Group B.
With a header from captain Vivek in the 74th minute, the Priya Darshan-coached Services broke the deadlock. He ascended to his highest point in order to nod the ball into the bottom corner. Chinmaya Sekhar Behera, the Odisha goalkeeper, got a hand on the ball, but it wasn’t enough to keep it out.
Odisha failed to clear their lines eight minutes later, and replacement Sharma scored with a first-time strike. The displeasure was palpable, and in the 87th minute, Abhishek Rawat’s late challenge on Deepak Singh reduced Odisha to ten men.