Santosh Trophy: Punjab thrashes Rajasthan 4-0 to stay afloat; Meghalaya holds Kerala

Punjab widened the gap with substitute Tarun Slathia's brace following goals from Amarpreet Singh and Paramjit Singh.

Muhammed Safnad scores Kerala's first goal against Meghalaya at the Santosh Trophy.   -  SAKEER HUSSAIN

Punjab thrashed Rajasthan 4-0 to keep its hopes alive in the Santosh Trophy National Football Championship here on Wednesday. After losing to Bengal in its opening match, it was a must-win game for the runner-up in the tournament's last edition.

Punjab widened the gap with substitute Tarun Slathia's brace following goals from Amarpreet Singh and Paramjit Singh. It was Rajasthan's third loss in as many games.

Punjab’s opening goal came off a long ball into the box from the right flank by Rajat Kumar. It was headed down by Manvir Singh and was converted into a goal by Amarpreet after speeding past a couple of Rajasthan defenders.

Paramjit made it 2-0 in the 63rd minute, striking from the penalty spot; Manvir had been brought down while darting into the goal from the left wing.

READ| Santosh Trophy: Services overcomes Gujarat, posts first win

Slathia's counter-attack, after receiving a long ball down the left from deep inside the Punjab half, resulted in the third goal.

READ| Santosh Trophy: Kerala beats Bengal, Meghalaya trumps Rajasthan

Eleven minutes later, he struck again. The throw-in by substitute Karamjeet Singh, not far from the right corner flag, could not be headed away out of danger by the Rajasthan defenders. The ball was chested down by Slathia before calmly putting it into the net. He was denied a hat-trick a little later by a fine save from Rajasthan goalkeeper Gajraj Singh.

Meghalaya earns a draw against Kerala
Meghalaya held host Kerala to a 2-2 draw in the Santosh Trophy National football championship in front of full house at the Malappuram District Sports Complex Stadium.

Kerala drew first blood through a goal by Muhammed Safnad off a superb low cross from the right by Nijo Gilbert. But Meghalaya equalised late in the first half with Kynsaibor Lhuid heading home a fine cross from Atlanson Kharmaw.

Meghalaya went ahead 10 minutes into the second half through a Figo Syndai header off a corner kick. But just three minutes later, Muhammed Saheef made it 2-2 for Kerala following a free-kick.

The results:

Punjab 4 (Amarpreet Singh 37, Parmjit Singh 63, Tarun Slathia 70 & 81, bt Rajasthan 0.
Kerala 2 (Muhammed Safnad 17, Muhammed Saheef 58) drew with Meghalaya 2 (Kynsaibor Lhuid 40, Figo Syndai 55).

Today’s matches: Manipur vs Gujarat (Malappuram) 4 pm; Services vs Karnataka (Manjeri) 8 pm

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