Maharashtra lose lead to hold defending champions Kerala to 4-4 draw

Maharashtra loses the lead to hold defending champions Kerala to a draw in the third round of a Group B fixture at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, Odisha earlier today.

Sufiyan Sheikh opened the score in the 16th minute, for Maharashtra. He broke the offside trap to brilliantly connect a cross from Vishnu, to give his team the lead.

Four minutes later, skipper Himanshu Patil doubled Maharashtra’s lead against the defending champions. Armash Ansari took advantage of an error from the Kerala defense and passed it to Himanshu, who slotted it home perfectly.

Sumit Bhandari made it 3 for Maharashtra in the 34th minute with an excellent piece of brilliance. He received a pass from Omkar and dispatched a sublime finish to the top right corner from the left-hand side of the box, leaving absolutely no chance for the Kerala goalkeeper Midhun.

Kerala pulled one back in the 38th minute. Vishak Mohanan tapping in from left back Mohammed Salim’s set-up.

Maharashtra scored their 4th goal three minutes later, this time by Tejas Raut. He capitalized on a blunder from the Kerala defense and found the back of the net from close range.

The second half saw the intensity rise up as Kerala started putting pressure on Maharashtra’s defense. In the 66th minute, Kerala was awarded a penalty for a handball inside the box, although replays suggested otherwise. Nijo Gilbert, who took it, calmly placed the ball into the right side of the post to score Kerala’s second.

Arjun V netted Kerala’s 3rd of the game in the 70th minute, with a brilliant finish from outside the box. Tejas cleared a cross that came into the Maharashtra box, but it fell onto Arjun, who took a touch to control the ball before rifling a shot into the far corner.

Kerala completed their comeback in the 76th minute of the game. Nijo Gilbert received a quickly taken throw-in and cut it back onto substitute John Paul Jose, who made no mistake in slotting the ball home. The goal brought a halt to the game for some time as Maharashtra players protested about not giving enough time to get back on the field as the referee had given a drinks break.

In the end, the goal stood and the game continued till the final whistle without any further goals as the match ended 4-4 with a point for each side

FT: Maharashtra (Sufiyan Sheikh 17’, Himanshu Patil 20’, Sumit Bhandari 34’, Tejas Raut 42’) 4 – 4 Kerala (Vishak Mohanan 38’, Nijo Gilbert p 66’, V Arjun 70’, John Paul Jose 77’)

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