Chandigarh’s semi-final hopes came crashing after a 2-1 loss to Maharashtra in their Group A match of the 72nd Santosh Trophy at the Rabindra Sarobar Stadium in Kolkata on Friday (March 23, 2018).
Goals from Shubham Khanvilkar in the 5th minute and Dion Menezes in the 9th minute saw Maharashtra take the lead early on. Vishal Sharma’s 88th minute strike provided a consolation goal for Chandigarh.
It took just five minutes for the western state to take the lead. Advait Shinde lost the ball inside the box but Shubham Khanvilkar took advantage of being unmarked and chipped the ball with an outstep over the keeper toward the far post.
Maharashtra doubled their lead four minutes later. The ball fell to skipper Dion Colaco who took an ambitious shot from around 35 yards which the goalkeeper Manvir Singh failed to anticipate and it sailed over his head, into the net.
Pankaj Singh was brought in nonetheless to replace Pawandeep Singh who failed to get the right flank going. The first shot on target for the Union Territory was held well by ‘keeper Aditya Mishra as Hamrinder Singh hit straight towards the custodian.
Chandigarh’s decision-making in the final third was poor from the far and few chances they got. Maharashtra’s two holding midfielders, Kiran Pandhare and Mrunal Tandel did well to keep the game ticking from the centre of the park.
Khanvilkar had another sniff at goal but he took too much time inside the box his shot went wide as his team went into the break two-nil up.
Both sides appeared cautious in the second half but Chandigarh showed more urgency. It was no surprise that the Maharahstra defenders had a bit more work to do as Pramod Pandey pulled off a good block from Vivek Rana’s shot inside the box in the 56th minute.
Substitute Leander Dharmai had the best of chances in the second half when his powerful shot was saved by Manvir Singh on the dive. Chandigarh had their second goalscoring opportunity in the 79th minute and on the other end, defender Nikhil Prahser pulled off a goal-line clearance a couple of minutes later. Prateek Joshi a glaring chance as he hit over the bar in the 83rd minute.
All these chances did result in a late goal for as Vivek Rana’s shot was first saved by Aditya Mishra but Vishal Sharma hit the back of the net off the rebound.
Maharashtra registered their first points on board and next play Kerala on Sunday. Chandigarh, with only one point from three outings, next play Bengal on the same day.