Margao: Rakesh Oram brace helped Orissa to beat Uttar Pradesh 2-1 and enter the semi-finals of the 34th Sub Juniors National for Coca Cola Mir Iqbal Hussain trophy played at Nehru Stadium.
Orissa were tied on 6 points along with Goa needed a win to qualify for the semi-finals started offensively and surged ahead in the 6th minute through Rakesh Oram.
Orissa piled on the pressure over the rival defense and increased the lead through Rakesh Oram in the 23rd minute to have Orissa leading 2-0 at half time. Uttar Pradesh fought back in the second half and reduced the margin in the 59th minute through Armit Kumar Rawat.
Thereafter they tried their best to find the equalizer but Orissa defense stood firm to see their team collect full points and top the table with of Group "A with nine points from four matches and qualify for the semi-finals.
Uttar Pradesh, who finished second behind Orissa, with 7 points, also qualify for the semi-finals along with Orissa. Orissa now will meet Madhya Pradesh in the first semi-finals on March 19. While Uttar Pradesh will clash with Chandigarh on 20th March. The final is slated on March 23.
In another match in the afternoon, Meghalaya dashed the hope of host Goa to make it to the semi-finals as they beat them by a solitary goal victory. Goa, who needed a win to qualify to the semi-finals, started positively as they created lot of scoring chances but their strikers Shann Crasto, Jasmon Soares missed easy chances.
Meghalaya finally broke the deadlock in the 78th minute, when Pynskhemtre beat keeper Sherwin D`Cunha under the bar off, a corner taken by Marbianski Suchiang.
Goa then made all-out effort in the dying minutes to find the equalizer, but Aldrich Coelho, who had the glorious opportunity to score failed to guide the ball into the net off a pass from Medhaj Chanikar.