Cuttack: Tamil Nadu struck once in either half as they beat Manipur 2-0 in the semifinal to book a summit clash against Services in the 66th Santosh Trophy National Football Championships on Saturday.
Striker A Reagan scored the first goal in the 35th minute and substitute M David sealed the issue for Tamil Nadu fate in the 85th minute at the Barabati Stadium.
The final will be played on May 28.
Tamil Nadu started on a cautious note and played a waiting game initially. They allowed their opponents to come to them but never opened their goal mouth. Their penchant for counter attack worked for them.
After a series of attacks on the rival citadel, Tamil Nadu eventually gained the lead in the 35th minute. Jayakumar`s defence-splitting pass opened up the Manipur defence and striker Reagan beat rival stopper James Singh for speed and tapped it past an onrushing goalkeeper Basant Singh.
Manipur fizzled out as the game progressed but before they had a couple of half chances in the first half. A Govin Singh header off a corner and Boy Singh free-kick from just outside the box deserved mention.
With a one-goal cushion at the interval, Tamil Nadu went into a defensive shell in the second half. The strategy allowed the Manipuris that extra bit of space in the midfield. Manipur`s best chance went abegging in the 61st minute with Boy Singh failing to trap a centre from the left and Tamil Nadu goalkeeper Akhil Soman thwarted the danger.
There were quite a few anxious moments in the Tamil Nadu box and Manipuri striker Thoi Singh`s diving header even entered the net only to be disallowed for off-side.
Tamil Nadu sealed the fate of the match in the 85th minute, a counter-attack doing the trick for them. Substitute M David finished it off as he slotted past Basant.