Chennai, Jun 6: Unimpressive Goa eked out a 1-0 victory against a 10-man Services for their first win while Karnataka ended Maharashtra's campaign with a 2-0 win in Group B quarterfinal league matches of the 63rd National Football Championship for the Santosh Trophy at the Nehru Stadium here Friday.
Both Goa and Karnataka moved closer to book semi-final berths with their wins.
Goa and Karnataka, who earlier beat Maharashtra 2-0, have four apiece. The defeat left the Services with three points from their 0-1 loss against Goa.
The loss puts Services in a spot as regards qualification for the semi-final is concerned. They are to meet Karnataka Saturday while Goa take on Maharashtra who are out of the competition with two defeats.
An intended clearance by Services defender Dileep following a Fulgano Cardozo pass struck Climax Lawrence on the body and the ball rebounded off the Goan forward into the goal for what proved to be the match-winner in the 56th minute.
Services, last year's finalists, were far too defensive Friday, especially after their No.1 goalkeeper Robikanta Singh Chongtham was sent off with a red card in just the 12th minute when he handled the ball outside the penalty area.
His exit meant a quick reshuffle and the Services pulled out striker Sochungmi Raleng, last year's top scorer, for substitute goalkeeper Sujan.
Indeed, Goa, very much the more innovative and impressive of the two teams, deserved every bit of the success even if it was against a team struggling with one player short.
The Services defence was under constant pressure with the Goans using the flanks and bombarding the penalty area with a series of crosses and lobs.
Under the circumstances, Sujan did a fine job for Services with several excellent saves until misfortune struck by way of the rebound goal that he was unable to prevent.
To Services' credit, they showed a lot of character and fighting spirit to keep the Goans at bay while they themselves launched into a full scale attack after falling behind and nearly scoring.
Goan goalkeeper and skipper Fleix D'Souza was called upon a couple of times to prevent entry as the Services till the end kept trying for the equaliser.
Earlier, Sanath Kumar (25th) and substitute Dada Nabeel (67th) fetched Karnataka three valuable points after their goalless draw with Goa.
After some early forays, Maharashtra seemed to have lost the plot and with their defence turning laden footed, Karnataka had the field open.
In fact, Karnataka could have won by a bigger margin but for some wayward shooting and poor finish by their forwards. A couple of goal-line stops by defender Anes Edathodika also denied Karnataka more success.
Maharashtra, who had ousted fancied Kerala in the pre-quarterfinals, marked their presence with a few pot shots at the Karnataka goal, but of more relevance was their performance at the back where far too many mistakes were committed.
Among the most glaring was when Sanath, put through by a clever lob from Prakash, was allowed to elude an off-side trap to make a run and slot the ball home for the first goal that all but sealed Maharashtra's fate.
Maharashtra all but equalised two minutes later when Sampath Kumar's header came off the post after some good approach work by Asim Hasan.
Karnataka then took a grip on the proceedings and went on to dominate as it became a one-way affair.
With a goal behind, Maharashtra picked up the gauntlet early in the second-half before falling back. The closest they came during this period was when Steven Benedict Dias put through Santosh Koli who headed straight to goalkeeper Gumpe Rime.
Karnataka then took charge and scored again when Nabeel, who replaced Sanath, deftly sidestepped Anes Edathodika after receiving a cross from Rajendra Prasad and found the back of the net to effectively close out the match.
Thereafter, Maharashtra made a few feeble attempts that were easily repelled by an alert Karnataka defence that on the day gave little away.
In the closing minutes, Karnataka made some concerted effort to boost their goals tally as insurance in the event of a tie for the top two Group A positions, but they never had a clear opening.
Group A: Tamil Nadu vs Manipur (4 pm); Bengal vs Punjab (6.30 pm)