GOA: Goa lived up to the home crowd’s expectations as they charged into the final of the 71st Santosh Trophy by rolling over Kerala 2-1 in the second semi-final played at GMC Stadium in Bambolim on Thursday.

In a match where both teams were looking to grab a win to seal their place in the final, hosts Goa took a 2-0 lead in the first half through a Liston Colaco brace before Rahul Raj reduced the margin for Kerala in the second half.

The first half saw Goa completely dominate proceedings with a number of attacks in the opening ten minutes but poor finish did not help their cause.

However, Goa’s persistent efforts finally bore fruit when Liston broke the deadlock in the 13th minute from Brian Mascranhas’ pass.

The early goal inspired Goa, as the Mateus Costa-coached side increased their pressure and attacked the rival goal ferociously going close on a few occasions. Goa’s  pressure yielded another goal when Liston once again got on the scoresheet in the 36th minute from Leander Cunha’s pass.

Kerala, on the other hand, had nothing much to offer as some solid defensive work from Goa defenders denied them a clear look at the goal in the session, as Goa took their two goal advantage into the breather.

Post resumption, Kerala came out as a different side altogether as they gelled well in the midfield and probed often into the rival half by pushing high up.

The pressure paid off as Kerala did pull a goal back in the 61st minute when nodded from a corner, but that was all Kerala could manage despite numerous chances as Goa managed to hold on to their slender lead till the long whistle.

Goa will now face Bengal in the final on Sunday at the same venue. Interestingly, when last time Goa hosted the Santosh Trophy final round in 1996, the very same teams faced off in the final with Bengal scoring a 1-0 win.

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