Santosh Trophy: Kerala beat Punjab 2-1 to book semi-final spot as group leaders


Malappuram: In a fierce match, Kerala beat a resurgent Punjab 2-1 in the Santosh Trophy Group A match at Payyanad stadium on Friday. Captain Jijo Joseph scored a double to ensure that Kerala goes to Semi-Final as the group leaders.

The match started in favour of Kerala but it was Punjab who broke the deadlock in the 12th minute through a defensive error for Manveer Singh to score the opener. The effort from Manveer deflected off the goalkeeper and went into the net.

With the goal scored, Kerala intensified its attack. Minutes later, Salman and Arjun Jayaraj came closer to scoring a goal. Eventually, Kerala equalized in the 17th minute, thanks to an excellent header by captain Jijo Joseph from Arjun Jayaraj's cross from the flangs.

Kerala started the second half with an intensified attack. Both teams opened up their opponent's defence but failed to shake the net. Defender Muhammed Saheef's effort from 30-yard-out almost went into the net. The deadlock was finally broken in the 86th minute through captain Jijo Joseph. His second goal of the game.

Kerala came into the match with two changes from the last match against Meghalaya. Nijo Gilbert was replaced by Salman and Mohammad Safnad was replaced by Shighil in the starting XI. Meantime, Punjab made three changes to their side.

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