Karnataka falter in thrilling shootout

THRILLED: Services players celebrate after defeating Karnataka in the semifinal in Ludhiana on Friday. AIFF

Services huffed and puffed and finally got over the line in a thrilling penalty shootout against a 10-man Karnataka side in the second semifinal of the Santosh Trophy at the Guru Nanak Stadium here on Friday.

Services took an early lead through Lallawmkima’s seventh minute strike but Karnataka levelled in the 84th minute thanks to a Nikhil Raj strike after going down to 10 men in the 70th minute after Ashik AS got the marching orders.

Karnataka, being the more attacking side, started the match off with their swift passing style moving the ball around the Services area. However, it was Services who surged into the early lead on the seventh minute. A cross from the right was controlled well by Lallawmkima inside the box before slotting the ball int the far corner of the net.

The side from South India continued to probe the Services third of the pitch throughout the match but failed to make much of an impression in front of goal.

Karnataka, last season’s semifinalists, suffered a further disadvantage in the game in the 70th minute, when defender Ashik A S was sent off for a rash tackle near the penalty area. While the resulting free-kick crashed into the wall, the melee that ensued saw Karnataka defender Namgyal Bhutia clear the ball off the goal-line.

However, against all odds, Karnataka clawed their way back when substitute Nikhil Raj ran into the Services box and slipped it past the keeper with just six minutes remaining.

With both teams level pegging after extra time, it was time for the shootout and Karnataka started off on a low with captain Vignesh Gunashekar sending his spot-kick crashing into the post. While Services scored all their four penalties, Karnataka substitute Manoj Swamy Kannan hit the fifth spot-kick wide, to send Services into the final.

Earlier, Punjab made it through to their 15th Santosh Trophy final beating Goa by 2-1.

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