Shibin nets extra-time winner as Kerala storm into final

Santhosh Trophy

Shibin Lal of Kerala made sure that there would be fans aplenty at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Sunday by scoring a second-half extra-time winner against Maharashtra in the first semifinal of the 67th Santosh Trophy here on Thursday.

The five-time National champions, who notched a 2-1 win, will face either defending champions Services or Punjab in the summit clash.

Shibin set the crowd abuzz after letting loose a rasping right-footer from the edge of the 18-yard box in the 118th minute. He was brilliantly set up by substitute Ahammed Malik. Shibin in the process made up for his bungle in the 99th minute of the match.

The teams were locked 1-1 after regulation time. Usman’s goal from the penalty spot in the 55th minute was negated by F Lalrempuia’s 71st minute strike.

A barren yet action-packed first half gave way to another exciting session. Usman’s powerful strike in the 53rd minute struck the horizontal. Referee Ranjith Bakshi pointed towards the dreaded spot seconds later, due to a handball inside the box during a melee that followed the shot. The lanky striker converted with minimal fuss sending the goalkeeper in the wrong direction.

But out of the blue, the visitors equalised through Lalrempuia in the 71st minute. Breaking the avalanche of attacks from Kerala, Lalrempuia unleashed a venomous right-footer from outside the box to bring the match on level terms.

It was the home side that looked the hungrier of the two in a riveting contest where both the outfits went for the offensive from the word go. However, the Maharashtra strike-duo of NP Pradeep and Mohammed Rafi – both former India Internationals – were bottled up expertly by the Kerala defence.

To make matters worse, Rafi picked up an injury in the first half and had to be replaced by Anas Ibnu Salam in the 36th minute.

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