Karnataka and Railways ended their campaigns in the 59th Indian Oil National Football Championship for the Santosh Trophy registering consolation victories in their final quarter-final league matches in Delhi on Monday.
Karnataka, propelled by a hat-trick from man of the match S K Dayananda, thumped Sikkim 6-1, while Railways struck twice in the second half to beat Delhi 2-1.
The four teams that played on Monday were already out of contention for a semi-final berth as Manipur, Services and Kerala have already made the grade. The fourth team in the semi-finals will be decided on Tuesday.
Karnataka had India captain Baichung Bhutia's team on the mat straightaway as they went ahead in the ninth minute through J Murali.
As Bhutia watched the proceedings again from the bench, still not ready to risk his operated knee, Karnataka made repeated forays into the rival area, stretching the Sikkim defence to the limit.
Dayananda then scored in the 39th minute and in injury time of the first half to put his team 3-0 up.
There was little respite for the team for the north-east side even after the break as Karnataka, playing mainly with players from Hindustan Aeronautics Sports Club, scored through M
Satish Kumar (53) and skipper Xavier Vijay Kumar (58) to go 5-0 up.
Sikkim captain Sisil Karthak reduced the margin in the 63rd minute before Dayananda completed the hat-trick two minutes from close.
Delhi, playing in the quarter-final stage after a long gap, never really got into the groove against Railways, who always had their nose in front.
In fact, the hosts should thank their goalkeeper Viney Singh, declared man of the match, for preventing Railways strikers Kasif Jamal and Asim Bishwas from adding to the two goals as the lanky custodian came up with some fine saves.
The expert panel, comprising former India players Afsal, Brahmanand, V P Sathyan and Anadi Barua had no hesitation in choosing the 'keeper as the best player and his efforts won him
After a barren first half, Railways took the lead four minutes after resumption when Jamal scored after connecting a fine pass from Subhasih Roy. The midfielder found Jamal with a piercing pass and the lanky striker came up with a clinical finish.
The Delhi goal again shivered after another Railways sally but this time the hosts were saved by their defender Inderjit Sharma.
With Delhi looking to regain their touch, coach Sukhpal Singh pulled out skipper Rishi Kapoor and introduced Asis Das. The move backfired as Das made simple errors and after 15 minutes Delhi replaced Das with Nageshwar Rao.
This time it worked as Delhi equalized, catching Railways off guard. Following a throw-in, deep in the rival area, Sumit Thapa found 20-year-old Sunil Chetri in the clear and the diminutive striker made no mistake with a sharp left-footer from close in the 71st minute.
Delhi's joy was shortlived as Railways got back on track within three minutes with Jamal putting through Gourav Dutta, who found the target with a fine shot.