Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat recorded victories against Odisha and Mizoram respectively at the Polo Ground in Kolhapur, Maharashtra to enter the semi finals of the Junior Girls National football championship 2019-20 on Saturday.
Himachal Pradesh became the third team to enter the semifinals after a rather comfortable 4-0 win over Odisha, who started off well but fizzled away after the first 10 minutes. Himachal skipper Anju should have put her team into the lead in the 11th minute as she missed from close range but just eight minutes later, Kiran gave them the lead after coolly slotting home a spot kick.
The side from north India continued to enjoy the better of the chances and doubled their lead in the 38th minute through Anju, who showed great skill to control a cross from the left, beat her marker and finish into the bottom corner.
Himachal continued their dominance in the second half as Manisha tripled her team’s advantage with an expertly-taken goal. In the 63rd minute, she received a through-pass with her back to goal and spun past the keeper to turn her inside out and score. Nisha became the fourth scorer for Himachal in the 72nd minute as she rifled the ball home from the left flank with a rasping drive as the match ended 4-0 – the exact score line as the first two quarterfinals.
In stark contrast to the first game of the day, the last quarterfinal between Gujarat and Mizoram was a cagey and physical affair that was played predominantly in the midfield.
The first half failed to provide any major chances, with Gujarat’s Shilpaben Thakor denying the opposition with a clearance off the goal line in the 29th minute. Mizoram custodian Lalhriatpuii produced a fine save from a long range effort at the stroke of half time, ensuring the scores remain level at the break.
The second was also similar to the first, with both sides tussling to get past the other’s defences. As the match inched towards extra time, the deadlock was almost broken by Mizoram’s Ruth Vanlalpeki, whose shot from the top of the box came back off the post.
The game-changing moment, however, came in the fourth minute of injury time. Gujarat’s Ishita Matthew was allowed space down the right flank and flung in a looping ball into the box which found its way into the corner and gave her side the lead.
In the last two minutes, they hung on for dear life and secured the victory as the match ended 1-0.