A valiant effort from defending champions Services saw tournament favourites Goa being knocked out in the first semi-final in the 70th edition of the Santosh Trophy on Friday.
Unbeaten throughout their campaign, Goa pushed the match into extra time with no clear winners emerging at the end of regulation time. Goa defender Mohammed Ali guided the ball onto his own net in the dying minutes of extra time in attempt to clear a Arjun Tudu shot as the game ended 1-0.
Semson Fenandez had an opportunity to score but Services goalkeeper Bhaskar Roy came out off his line to deny the former in the 86th minute.
In the other knockout game, ten-man Maharashtra ended past Tamil Nadu with a 1-0 win. Shakti Singh's strike in the 58th minute was the difference between the two teams. Harold Fernandez though was sent off for his second booking in the 91st minute.
In the 65th minute, Shakti Singh again tried his luck with a long ranger which was tipped away by 'keeper Sounesh. The best chance which Tamil Nadu earned in the second half came in the 73rd minute but Soosairaj again was found wanting as he couldn’t connect a fine cross from Kali Alaudeen.
"This is was a creditable display from my boys. It was a strong collective performance and had we converted all our chances, we would have won by a more comfortable margin,” said an elated Augusto D’Silva, head coach of Maharashtra.
He further added, "I’m now looking forward to the final and I’m confident that the boys will rise to the challenge and put up a much better and improved showing (against Services)".
Hosts Maharashtra have entered the final after a hiatus of 11 years where they are slated to meet defending champions Services who are appearing in their fourth finale in five years. The final will be played at the SEC Railway Stadium in the Orange city of Nagpur on Sunday, March 13.
2016 Santosh Trophy semi-final results:
Goa 0-1 Services (Mohammed Ali OG 115') [MoM: Arjun Tudu]
Maharashtra 1-0 Tamil Nadu (Shakti Singh 58') [MoM: Vijith Shetty]