Santosh Trophy: History-makers Meghalaya, Karnataka to clash in final

Meghalaya players celebrate a goal against Punjab. Photo: AIFF

Riyadh: Meghalaya and Karnataka on Wednesday stunned former champions Punjab and Services respectively to set up a summit clash between themselves in the Santosh Trophy national football championships here.

Meghalaya made a spirited fightback as they rallied from a goal deficit to beat eight-time champions Punjab 2-1 in the first semifinals and enter their maiden final.

Karnataka then beat Services, who have won five titles in the last 10 years, 3-1 in the second semifinals to enter their first final in 47 years. The last time Karnataka were in the final was in 1975-76 when they had lost to Bengal.

The final between Meghalaya and Karnataka will be played on Saturday, while the third-place play-off between Punjab and Services will also be staged earlier on the same day.

Karnataka players celebrate their semifinal win over Services. Photo: AIFF

Punjab have come into the semifinals without losing a match. They had topped their group in both the first and second rounds.

The semifinals, the third-place play-off and the final is being played here as the Santosh Trophy is being held at the foreign shores for the first time in its history.

Paramjit Singh had given Punjab lead in the 16th minute but Megahlaya restored parity in the 37th minute through Figo Syndai when he coolly slotted home after Nikelson Bina had headed down on the face of the goal.

Meghalaya, playing in thir first semifinals, controlled large parts of the match after the equaliser but could not a find goal till the fag end of the match.

Sheen Stevenson Sohktung found the target in the injury added time (90+1) in the match played in the near empty King Fahd International Stadium. Punjab, who have left out a few players that had played in the second round in Bhubaneswar, thus have to wait for the title which they last won in 2007-08.

In the second semifinals, both Services and Karnatka were on equal terms before a three-goal burst in the last five minutes of the first half.

Services' Bikash Thapa and Karnataka's Abhishek Powar missed a goal each in the 33rd and 38th minutes respectively. Thapa then put Services in the lead in the 40th minute.

But two minutes later, Robin Yadav restored parity from a free-kick before P Ankith gave Karnataka lead in the first minute of first half injury time (45+1) as Karnataka went to the breather at 2-1 lead.

Karnatka took the match beyond Services' reach when M Sunil Kumar struck in the 77th minute to make it 3-1.

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