Santosh Trophy: Meghalaya downs defending champion Services

The north-eastern State notches up a 2-0 win to keep its semifinal hopes alive.

Meghalaya and Services players in action at Tilak Maidan in Vasco.   -  PTI

Defending champion Services’ prodigality and defensive errors gifted Meghalaya its first win in Group A in the 71st Santosh Trophy football tournament at the Tilak Maidan here on Saturday.

The north-eastern State notched up a 2-0 win as Services suffered its second defeat, thereby diminishing its chances of securing a semifinal spot. Meghalaya, on the other hand, kept its hopes very much alive in the group. Chandigarh bowed out the tournament on a high note by holding host Goa to a 1-1 draw at GMC stadium, Bambolim. Chandigarh completed its engagements with four points from four matches. The draw has thrown open the group with Goa, Meghalaya and Bengal fancying their chances for a place in semifinal.

Services fell behind by a Dibinroy Nongspung goal in the eighth minute. The goal was a result of poor defending as a Services defender failed to intercept a high ball from Enester Malnogiang. The ball came to unmarked Dibinroy, who had sufficient time to bury the ball into the far corner of the net.

Services quickly regrouped and launched a series of attack at the Meghalaya goal. The sustained aggression yielded many chances for Services but they were frittered away in the first half. Goalkeeper Kenio Lyngkhoi denied Jain from close in the 10th minute and five minutes later parried away a stiff shot from Francis.

The normally reliable Arjun Tudu was found wanting in the 35th minute as he shot out from close after Britto squared a precise pass to him from left flank. Britto turned out to be the culprit in the 39th minute when he failed to direct his header properly while connecting the high ball from Jain on the right flank.

Services had a goal disallowed for off-side in the 55th minute. In the 65th minute, it was the turn of Mohammed Irshad to blast out as Services’ finishing woes continued. Meghalaya plugged its defence and switched to its attacking mode. Dominating the midfield, Meghalaya created several chances in the second half. Services’ goalkeeper Vishnu’s alacrity under the bar thwarted many efforts. But Vishnu was let down by his defence which waited for the referee to raise the off-side flag when the ball reached an unmarked Bisharlang Kharumnuid, who beat the goalkeeper with a left footer to double Meghalaya’s lead in the 76th minute.

Vishnu again had to be at his best to deny Dibinroy in the 86th minute as Meghalaya pressed hard to pile further agony.

In Dambolin, Aaren D’Silva put Goa ahead in the 13th minute, giving finishing touches to a fine cross from Francis Fernandez. Sehjpal Singh restored parity for Chandigarh in the 51st minute, converting a free-kick.

On Sunday, Kerala takes on Mizoram while Maharashtra plays Punjab.

Result

Meghalaya 2 (Dibinroy Nongspung 8, Bisharlang Kharumnuid 76) beat Services 0.

Goa 1 (Aaren D’ Silva 13) drew with Chandigarh (Sehjpal Singh 51).