B D Narayankar
PUNE: Holding their nerves in a tense situation, Chetak snatched a victory over much-fancied Fatima XI 4-2 via tie-breaker in the semi-final of the Vahatuk football tournament at Chandrashekhar Agashe Ground here on Friday. Sanu Jacob fired Fatima XI ahead in the 24th minute, but their joy was short-lived when Ruturaj Thakkar posted the equaliser early into the second half to take the game into tie-breaker.Deadlocked 1-1 in regulation time, Chetak made three conversions in the tie-breaker, while Kartik Mandrekar, Kabir Mandrekar and Ruturaj Thakkar struck for Chetak. For Fatima, Viren D’Souza was the only player to convert his spot kick, while three of their star players - Vijayan Arland, Xavier Bernard and Shahid Khan missed their penalties. Chetak goalkeeper Abhijeet Javkhedkar was undoubtedly the hero in the shootout, pulling off two diving saves at both sides of the post. Earlier, Fatima made a promising beginning essaying their first move down the left flank when Viren D’Souza dribbled past the Chetak medios and took a shot at Chetak’s net in the 7th minute. Kabir Mandrekar intercepted the shot and cleared the ball out for a free kick. Richard Zuzart, once again, weaved an incisive move, dodged a couple of defenders and rifled in a shot from a tight angle that was well blocked by Chetak goalkeeper Abhijeet Javkhedkar in the 8th minute. Chetak strikers - Aditya Bhaskaran and Manvendra Mishra devised a lethal move opening up the Fatima citadel in the 20th minute. However, it was Fatima who fired the first salvo when Sanu Jacob tapped the ball in after Viren D’Souza had set up a brilliant opportunity from the left corner of the box. Fatima led 1-0 at half-time. Chetak attacked with more purpose in the second session. Their forwardline used the right flank on a consistent basis. The sustained Chetak pressure cracked the Fatima defence when Ruturaj Thakkar restored parity. He made the most of a Manvendra Mishra centre that deflected off the goalpost in the 40th minute and caught Fatima’s defence napping. Chetak muffed up a good chance to go ahead 2-1 in the 52nd minute when Aditya Bhaskaran sprinted down the right and nudged the ball to Manvendra Mishra, whose backheel went out tantalisingly close to the Fatima goal. Fatima will now meet City Club in the final. City Club pulled through after pipping Thunder Catz 1-0 in the semi-finals. Prince Ghoswal scripted a last-gasp goal for City Club.
RESULTS: Chetak 4 (1) (Ruturaj Thakkar 2, Kartik Mandrekar, Kabir Mandrekar) bt Fatima 2 (1) (Sanu Jacob, Vijayan Arland); City Club 1 (Prince Ghoswal) bt Thunder Catz 0.