Santosh Trophy: Necio beats 'offside trap' twice to give Goa win over Kerala

Necio M Fernandes (yellow, right) makes his run to beat the offside trap and score for Goa against Kerala. Photo: Screengrab/YouTube@ArunachalPradeshFA

Necio Fernandes beat Kerala's 'offside trap' twice to give Goa a 2-0 win in the Santosh Trophy in Arunachal Pradesh on Friday.

The striker's opener in the 45th minute was marred by controversy as the referee overruled his assistant's flag for offside, which led to protests from the Kerala players and head coach Satheevan Balan.

But Kerala couldn't protest Fernandes' second, tucked in on the 58th minute, though it was similar in manner to his opener -- a timely­ run to beat the offside trap and a neat finish.

Kerala were guilty of leaving the backdoor open in their search of an equaliser. They failed to notice Fernandes and his partner in attack, Laxmanrao Rane, slipping in behind. The Goan duo was alert to long balls, a trait of play that either side used to the point of exhaustion, probably to avoid the trouble of carrying the ball on an artificial playing surface that wasn't suited for short passing.

Necio M Fernandes (yellow) celebrates his second goal for Goa against Kerala. Photo: Screengrab/YouTube@ArunachalPradeshFA

Kerala might argue luck wasn't on their side. They would not be completely wrong as it isn't easy losing your best player and skipper to an injury early on. Captain Gilbert, one of the three goalscorers for Kerala against Assam in the opener, pulled his hamstring and was taken off.

Gilbert's injury might prove to be a big blow as the tournament progresses. It sure did against Charles Dias' Goa, as Gilbert and Abdu Raheem had pinned the opposition fullbacks deep into their half. Gilbert's replacement, Akbar Sidhique, was unable to influence the game and was replaced in the 80th minute with Naresh.

Action between Kerala (white) and Goa in the Santosh Trophy in Arunachal Pradesh on Friday. Photo: Screengrab/YouTube@ArunachalPradeshFA

Raheem, who had opened Kerala's scoring against Assam, was Kerala's biggest goal threat as he fit in perfectly on either flanks in Balan's 4-4-2. He hit a post with a diving header on the third minute and missed at least three more opportunities in the second half. First, he forced a smart save from Antonio Da Silva and then dribbled himself into the box, and into a block. He should have scored with another free header but the attempt went wide.

Mohamed Ali and Joseph Clemente marshalled Goan defence by not letting the Kerala frontmen Sajeesh and Muhammed Ashiq operate in space. Sajeesh, however, found himself at the end of chances but misfired.

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