Kerala strike late as Karnataka bow out

Football Santosh Trophy

Karnataka failed to qualify for the final phase of the Santosh Trophy, suffering a heart-breaking 2-3 loss to Kerala in injury time in their last league match of the South Zone tournament here on Monday.

Kerala, who needed to win this match to qualify, advanced to the final rounds along with Tamil Nadu, who defeated Andhra Pradesh 4-0 in another match. Karnataka required only a draw to seal a qualification spot and they seemed to be on course as they led 2-1 going into the final minute.

But Shibin Lal then struck his second goal of the match in the 90th minute to bring the scores level for Kerala and then Usman powered one home in injury time to dash Karnataka’s hopes. 

Earlier, Nguernilal Hmar put Karnataka ahead in the 25th minute and captain Xavier Vijay Kumar followed it up with another strike three minutes later. Things looked pretty rosy for Karnataka at that point but Shibin Lal pulled one back in the 37th minute and the scoreline read 2-1 in favour of Karnataka at half-time.

It remained that way for the better part of the remaining period before injury time -- ten minutes of it was played -- brought forth a Kerala revival. The final rounds of the tournament are to be played at Siliguri.

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