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Ansari Hattrick helps Maharashtra beat defending champions Karnataka to signs off Santosh Trophy campaign on a positive note

In the culmination of the group stage in the 77th Santosh Trophy, the showdown between Maharashtra and Karnataka unfolded at the Golden Jubilee Stadium in Yupia, Arunachal Pradesh. This clash marked the final chapter for both teams in the group stage.

The match kicked off with a compelling display from both teams. Rashid’s formidable attempt reverberated as the ball struck the crossbar, providing Karnataka with a heart-stopping moment. Prashanth Kalinga’s shot tested Maharashtra’s defensive resilience, but Kamran Ansari, commanding the goal, deftly flipped the ball over the post.

In a pivotal 20th-minute juncture, Satish and Arfat Ansari orchestrated a brilliant combination, breaking the deadlock to secure Maharashtra the lead. Satish Hawaldar’s dynamic run down the left wing culminated in a flawless assist, allowing Ansari to elegantly tap the ball into the net.

Karnataka, eager to level the score, came close when Nikhil Raj aimed for the post. However, Kamran Ansari’s acrobatic save thwarted their aspirations. The first half concluded with Arfat Ansari doubling Maharashtra’s lead, capitalizing on Mohammed Zaid’s artful lofted ball from the left during additional time.

The second half unfolded with Stanley Peter’s ambitious header attempt, only to see it sail over the post. Karnataka faced adversity in the 60th minute when Nikhil G received a red card for a reckless foul on Rizwan.
Rashid showcased exceptional skill, navigating from the half-line and smoothly eluding the keeper to narrow the margin with Karnataka’s first goal.

In the final Moments of the game , Advait’s precision in passing found Arfat Ansari, who skillfully directed the ball into the net, hitting the left pole for another goal. The second half, characterized by its intensity, witnessed frequent stoppages due to injuries and card incidents. Arfat Ansari’s remarkable hat-trick ultimately secured a 3-1 lead for Maharashtra.

As the final whistle echoed across the Golden Jubilee Stadium, it symbolized the conclusion of The Santosh Trophy journey for both Maharashtra and Karnataka. Maharashtra secured the 5th position in the table with a tally of 6 points,  falling short of Knockout round qualification by a solitary point, concluding their campaign on a positive note.