ANI Photo | Santosh Trophy: Mizoram confirm quarterfinal spot, Manipur top Group B

Mizoram confirmed their spot in the quarterfinals of the 2023-24 Santosh Trophy with a comprehensive 4-0 win against Railways at the Golden Jubilee Stadium in Itanagar, on Saturday.
While the four teams to make it to the knockout stages from Group A were already confirmed on Matchday 4, three of the Group B sides – Manipur, Delhi, and Railways – started on Saturday (Matchday 5), having already qualified. Mizoram, Maharashtra, and Karnataka were fighting it out for one quarterfinal spot, and it was an advantage for Mizoram, as per a press release from the All India Football Federation (AIFF).
Services will face Railways in the first quarterfinal on March 4 at 2.40 pm, followed by the second quarterfinal between Goa and Delhi at 7 pm. On March 5, Manipur will take on Assam at 2.30 pm, while Mizoram will play Kerala at 7 pm.
The side from the Northeastern reaches of India had a simple equation in front of them. If they beat Railways, they would book their quarterfinal spot; anything else, and they would have to depend on other results.
Lalthankima (17′) set the tone for Mizoram early on, as he ran on to a through ball behind the Railways defence and slotted it past the keeper. Mizoram were not content with just a goal lead and constantly kept looking for more opportunities to score.
However, Railways came back hard in the second half, looking for the equaliser. They had already qualified, but a few points in this game would improve their standing in the group, which could give them a more favourable tie in the quarterfinals.
However, it was Railways’ willingness to commit more men forward that was finally their undoing. Mizoram substitute Vanlalbiaa Chhangte doubled the lead in the 81st minute, a similar strike to that of Lalthankima.
Abhishek Aich’s 87th-minute own goal, which came as a result of the Railways defender attempting to clear a Malsawmtluanga cross, only made matters worse, before Mizoram substitute Malsawmfela scored a fourth from a move that he had initiated outside the box, before playing a one-two with Dwangliana, before slipping it past the keeper with his left.

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