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Santosh Trophy: Punjab, Services reach semis
June 09, 2008 21:19 IST
Reigning champions Punjab bulldozed Kerala [Images] 5-0, while Services pipped a spirited Jammu and Kashmir [Images] 3-2 to take contrasting routes to the semifinal of the 62nd Santosh Trophy national football championship in Srinagar [Images] on Monday.
Group B, meanwhile, is still wide open and Tuesday's matches -- Goa [Images] vs Karnataka and West Bengal vs Maharashtra -- will decide the semifinalists from this group.
After a quiet first half, Punjab pumped in five goals in a span of 34 minutes to decimate last year's semifinalists Kerala.
For them, Baljit Sahni and Baljit Singh scored a brace each after Sakatar Singh had opened the account in the 54th minute.
Kerala forwards cut a sorry figure on Monday with their poor finishing. Abdul Nabi Ahmed missed a sitter in the third minute while Martin John squandered at least three opportunities in the first half itself and Kerala had to pay the price for the lapses.
Earlier, Services laboured its way into the semifinals after pipping a spirited Jammu and Kashmir 3-2 at the Bakshi Stadium.
Having lost their first two games against Punjab and Kerala, J&K were already out of the reckoning for a semifinal berth but the hosts played for pride and almost upstaged Services in the see-saw match.
Though the hosts dominated most of the proceedings, S Relang put Services ahead in the eighth minute. Rohit Kumar drew parity for the hosts with his 56th minute strike but Shaji D'Silva struck twice in the span of seven minutes to make it 3-1 for Services. Though the never-say-die hosts reduced the margin again through Ishfaq in the 74th minute, the equaliser eluded them for the remainder of the tie.
J&K got into action right from the word go and won a corner in the very first minute even though Kamaljeet's left-footer was parried by the Services goalkeeper and Adil's shot on the rebound was off-target.
Relang scored the first goal against run of the play but the indomitable hosts continues raiding the Services citadel.
Fed by Ishfaq, Kamaljeet squandered a sitter in the 33rd minute when he shot wide.
The equaliser finally came after change of ends when Kamaljeet's pass found Rohit Kumar and the latter made no mistake in slamming it home.
The home side's joy, however, proved shortlived as Shaji first capitalised on a defensive lapse to score his first goal and seven minutes later dodged a number of J&K defenders to complete his brace.
Trailing by two goals, the hosts still did not give up and when Ishfaq's 74th minute header found the net, it raised the hopes of a comeback by the hosts.
A minute later, Kamaljeet almost equalised from right flank but Services custodian Min Bahadur Chhetri thwarted the effort.