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Sporting Clube keeps semifinal hopes alive

Sporting Clube de Goa kept its hopes of making the semifinals of the Durand Cup alive after completing its Pool A campaign with a commanding 5-0 win against struggling Minerva FC at the Ambedkar Stadium here on Tuesday. Its further journey in the competition, however, would depend on the other results in the group going in its favour.

With both teams tied on four points from as many games, it was an elimination contest and the Chandigarh based Minerva faltered under pressure.

On Tuesday, the Goan side went ahead in the 20th minute when Glan Martins struck a powerful shot from the edge of the box past Minerva’s rookie goalkeeper Shamsher Singh. Five minutes later, Cajetan Fernandes struck home a 30-yard free kick that curled into the net.

The organisation and disciplined attack that was visible in Minerva’s past games were absent. The Punjab side fought back in the second half but Sporting was content pulling down the shutters and defending its lead. For almost half hour, the match was largely restricted to the Sporting half but some desperate saves and wayward kicking by the opposition ensured there was no danger to the scoreline.

It didn’t help Minerva’s cause that its players, specially playmaker Amandeep Singh, kept losing their cool and indulged in some rough tackling and heated exchange of words, inviting repeated caution from the referee.

Breaking free finally in the 73rd minute, George D’Souza converted a 40-yard long-ranger free kick from the right to increase the lead. George was again in action when his free kick at the stroke of time was headed in by Alber Gonsalves and Marcus Mascarenhas’s solo run past a scattered defence in the injury time wrapped up the game.

The results:

Pool A: SCG 5 (Glan Martins, Cajetan Fernandes, George D’Souza, Alber Gonsalves, Marcus Mascarenhas) bt Minerva FC 0; Pool B: RKFC 1 (Prem Kumar) drew with IAF 1 (Mohd. Shahbaz).

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