Kozhikode: Kerala are off to a magnificent start to their Santosh Trophy south zone qualifiers dismantling Andhra Pradesh 5-0 at the Corporation Stadium here on Tuesday.
The hosts totally dominated the visitors and were leading 2-0 at half time. Wave after wave of Kerala attacks were too much for Andhra Pradesh to handle.
Kerala opened the scoring through defender Vibin Thomas in the 44th minute. Two minutes later, it was 2-0. Leon Augustine was brought down inside the penalty box and the referee pointed to the penalty spot. Leon himself stepped up to take the penalty and smashed it into the roof of the net.
Soon came the half time whistle and Andhra Pradesh looked like they needed the break. Kerala was camping in the Andhra half for most of the opening 45 minutes.
In the second half, Kerala resumed from where they had left off. Kerala increased the lead through substitute Emil Benny in the 53rd minute. He scored his second and Kerala’s fourth 10 minutes later. Another substitute N. Shihad completed the rout by scoring a fifth in the fifth minute of injury time.
Totally outclassed across the field, Andhra had no answer to the overlapping runs of Kerala right back Ajin Tom. Central midfielder Akhil controlled the tempo of the game for Kerala finding pockets of space in the middle of the park and linking up well with teammates.
The only plus point for Andhra Pradesh was their goalkeeper Koppisetti Ajaykumar. He made at least six brilliant saves preventing Kerala from scoring more goals.
Kerala will face Tamil Nadu in their next game on Saturday while Andhra will face Tamil Nadu on Thursday in the other match. The group winners will qualify for the final round.