Cuttack: Services scored once in each half as they beat Kerala 2-1 at the Barabati Stadium here Friday to advance to the final of the 66th Santosh Trophy. They await the winner between Manipur and Tamil Nadu to see who they will face Monday.
Subrata Sarkar scored in the fifth minute and Kerala`s Marsook committed an own goal in the 50th minute. For Kerala, Vineet Anthony converted from the spot in the 83rd minute.
Services surged into the lead early as the fifth minute. Kerala defender Marsook failed to clear a Sanju Subba cross in the box and Sarkar was agile enough to capitalise - chipping it over Kerala custodian Joby Joseph.
Kerala tried to regroup, but weren`t allowed the space inthe midfield to manoeuvre. Up front Kerala striker R Kannan with his deft touches and positional sense did catch the rivals unaware a couple of times, but he didn`t get much support.
In the 19th minute, Kannan`s ambitious over-head kick sailed over and then in the 34th minute his long-ranger was fisted over by Services goalkeeper Nanao Singh.
The goal apart, Services` best chance came in the 36th minute when Sarkar failed to beat Joseph from close after being set in the clear by a Horin through pass.
Changing over, Services doubled the lead almost immediately-- in the 50th minute. A harmless PS Sumes cross was back-headed into his own net by Marsook.
But Kerala didn`t give up. In the 55th minute, Kannan broke down the right and his low centre needed a tap from Usman; but the latter failed.
Kerala did attack relentlessly as Kannan wrecked havoc in the Services` box for most part of the second half. But even he failed to reduce the margin when he blasted out from inside the box in the 70th minute.
However, Nanao pulled down Usman in the box in the 83rd minute in the box - substitute Vineet Anthony converting from the spot.
Inspired, Kerala went all out. But Services survived some anxious moments and managed to hold on.