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Manipur beat a spirited Railways 2-1 today to book a summit clash showdown against Tamil Nadu in the 23rd Senior Womens National Football Championship here. Star striker Bala Devi struck twice (13th and 85th minutes) for Manipur while Kamala Devi (14th) scored the lone goal for Railways in the second semifinal match the Barabati Stadium here. Earlier in the first semifinals, Tamil Nadu outplayed West Bengal 4-1.
The final match will be played on Wednesday. Both the teams played an open game from the beginning, exchanging quick passes and timely interceptions in an exciting display of football. Manipur struck first blood when Railways keeper Samal failed to latch onto Balas powerful shot in the 13th minute. But even before the celebrations could die down on the Manipur bench, Railways struck back with Kamala Devi making an exceptional run into the box to score the equaliser in the 14th minute. The second half saw both teams looking for the match-winner but a disciplined display at the back blunted out each others attacking intentions. Prameshwori came close but her shot went over the bar while Kamalas shot was well judged by Panthoi at the other end as both teams matched each other at every turn. Just as it seemed that the game was headed towards extra-time, Railways resistance was broken when Bala Devi poked it in from a goal mouth melee in the 85th minute, her goal turning out to be the winner and eventual difference between the two sides.
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