After trailing by three goals in the first half, they came back with three goals in the second half. In the Santosh Trophy Football, Kerala drew as close as victory against Maharashtra. Trailing 4-1 at one stage, Kerala drew Maharashtra 4-4.
Visakh Mohanan, Nijo Gilbert, Arjun V and John Paul Jose scored for Kerala while Sufian Sheikh scored a brace for Maharashtra. Himanshu Patil and Sumit Bhandari got one goal each.
With this tie, Kerala’s semi-final chances are in the balance. Kerala defeated Goa in the first match of Group A and lost to Karnataka in the second match. Kerala will have to win the next two matches to enter the semi-finals and will have to depend on the results of other matches.
Maharashtra attacked from the start of the match. As a result, Maharashtra took the lead in the 17th minute. Sufian Shaikh opened the account for Maharashtra. The goal was scored due to the failure of Kerala’s defense. Kerala failed to clear the ball as it emerged into the box. Sufiyan made the goalkeeper Mithun a spectator and took aim.
Soon after, Maharashtra fired the next shot. This time captain Himanshu Patil scored the goal. The goal was scored in the 20th minute. Himanshu scored the first goal easily from Sufiyan’s pass. This time too, the failure of Kerala’s defense led to conceding the goal.
In the 28th minute, Kerala’s Nijo Gilbert had a good chance but the player’s volley went wide of the defender. Maharashtra scored again in the 35th minute to shock Kerala. Sumit Rajendrasingh Bhandari scored the goal. The player achieved the goal with a stunning finish.
Even though there were two defenders in front of them, Sumit surprised everyone by taking the ball to the net like a rainbow through them. Goalkeeper Mithun tried his best but could not get the ball under control.
Kerala retaliated soon after. Visakh Mohanan scored the goal for Kerala. The goal was scored in the 38th minute. The player brought comfort to Kerala by accurately netting the cross given by Muhammad Salim for Visakh from inside the box.
But before the ripples of that goal ended, Maharashtra scored again. In the 42nd minute, Sufiyan found the target again for Maharashtra. This time too, the weakness in Kerala’s defense led to the goal. Sufiyan, who got the ball through the mistake of Asif, who came as a substitute, easily hit the net. Soon the first half was over.
In the second half, Kerala attacked and started playing. In the 65th minute, the referee awarded a penalty in favor of Kerala. Nijo Gilbert did not miss the kick. Nijo scored Kerala’s second goal by slotting the ball into the left corner of the net with ease.
Even after scoring the goal, Kerala continued to attack. Then the third goal was scored. Substitute Arjun V netted for Kerala in the 71st minute. Arjun fired a smashing grounder from outside the box that defied the defenders and hit the right corner of the post. This is one of the best goals of the tournament. With this goal, Kerala reduced the gap with Maharashtra to just one goal. With this, the match reached its climax.
Maharashtra was waiting to see the return of Kerala. Kerala scored the equalizer in the 77th minute. Kerala scored by making the Maharashtra defense a total spectator. Substitute John Paul Jose netted for Kerala. With this, Kerala returned to the competition strong. The goal came from playmaker Nijo Gilbert’s pass.
After scoring the goal, all the Maharashtra team members came against the referee. Due to this the match was delayed for 15 minutes. The Maharashtra players argued that the goal was offside. But the referee did not listen to any of their arguments and allowed the goal to Kerala.
The referee allowed extra time for 15 minutes. In injury time, both teams filled the field with excellent attacks. But both teams could not score the winning goal.