Mizoram improved dramatically in the second half to score a consolation 2-1 win over Services in a Pool ‘A’ match of the 70th Santosh Trophy football championship at the SEC Railway stadium here on Tuesday.
In another match in the same group, Jammu and Kashmir ended its campaign on a high note by defeating former champions Railways 2-1 at the University ground.
The win for Mizoram had no impact on the final standings in the group as Services had already topped the group by virtue of having beaten Maharashtra in the earlier match. Having ensured the top spot in the group, Services rested four key players and tested its bench strength for this match.
However, the changes didn’t have the desired effect as the defending champion was far from convincing in its attacks. The midfield struggled to create chances for strikers Tudu and Sarajit Singh. But Services went ahead with the first genuine chance it created in the rival half. A quick move opened up the Mizo defence and Bibake Thapa, who was about to score, was hacked down inside the box by Lal Rinzuala Khiangte in the 22nd minute. The resultant penalty was converted by Arjun Todo in the 23rd minute for the opening goal.
Mizoram was poor in the midfield and the side struggled to play its trademark quick passing game. Except for a few speculative long rangers from Dawngliana, the North East side failed to create an open chance in the first half.
However, introduction of Malsawmfela and Ruben Zosangpuia in the second half gave much needed fillip to the Mizo attack. Playing with lot of energy and determination, Mizoram caught Services off guard. Dawngliana equalised for Mizoram in the 49th minute with a sublime finish as Lalkhapuimawia arrowed in a precise cross from the left flank.
The equaliser galvanised the Mizo side and Services goal came under sustained pressure. A fine move from the right flank resulted in the second goal when Lalrosanga darted in and centred the ball towards Services goal. Dawngliana missed the first attempt and ball came to unmarked Lalkhapuimawia, who buried the ball into the net from close in the 59th minute.
Mizoram had another chance but Services goalkeeper Shibin Raj made a reflex save to deny Laldanmawia in the 65th minute. Thereafter there were few chances as Services lowered the pace of the contest by holding on to the ball for more time.
Altamash Syed snatched a late winner as Jammu and Kashmir upset former champion Railways 2-1. Shahnwaz Bashir (38) put Jammu and Kashmir ahead but Anil Kisku (61) found the equaliser for Railways in the second half.
Mizoram 2 (Dawngliana 49, Lalkhapuimawia 59) bt Services 1 (Arjun Tudu 23); Jammu and Kashmir 2 (Shahnwaz Bashir 38, Altamash Syed 85) bt Railways 1 (Anil Kisku 61).
Final standings Pool A: Services: 4-3-1-0-5-3-9; Maharashtra: 4-3-1-0-7-2-9; Mizoram: 4-2-1-1-7-4-7; Jammu and Kashmir: 4-1-3-0-4-9-3; Railways: 4-0-3-1-3-8-1 (read as played, won, lost, draw, goals for, goals against and points).
Wednesday’s match: Tamil Nadu v Punjab; Assam v West Bengal.