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UP shock Maharashtra

October 20, 2004 19:53 IST

Uttar Pradesh upset fancied Maharashtra to join 29-time champions Bengal and Tamil Nadu in the quarter-final league stage of the Santosh Trophy National football championship in Delhi on Wednesday.

Favourites Bengal, in Cluster I, overcame a spirited fight from Andhra Pradesh to win 3-0 and join Services and Uttar Pradesh in Group B of the quarter-final league.

Tamil Nadu moved up from Cluster VIII with a 1-1 draw against Jammu and Kashmir to be clubbed alongside Goa and Punjab in Group D.

With today's matches, which also saw Orissa beat Pondicherry 4-2, eleven of the 12 quarter-finalists were spotted. The last team will be decided on Thursday after the Cluster II match between MP and Assam.

India striker Abhishek Yadav was the main culprit in Maharashtra's shocking 1-2 defeat to Uttar Pradesh as he missed at least two sitters and appeared jaded as Uttar Pradesh struck once in each half before Maharashtra pulled a goal back two minutes from time.

Cheered on by a small bunch of supporters from Kendriya Vidyalaya, Lucknow, who were in the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium Complex for the National KV Sports Meet, Uttar Pradesh went ahead in the 33rd minute as Prahlad Rawat slipped past his markers and scored with a fine header connecting a perfect cross from the right by medio Uttam Singh.

Maharashtra could have equalised and also taken the lead in the first half itself had Abhishek, who returned from national duty in Singapore, not made a mess of two sitters in a space of three minutes, the 41st and 44th.

Two minutes into the second half, Rawat again shocked Maharashtra with a thundering long ranger from some 40 yards that flew into the net leaving former India goalkeeper Raju Ekka stranded.

With Abhishek doing little of note and time ticking away fast, Maharashtra coach Bimal Ghosh finally replaced the striker with Francis Ferreira in the 71st minute.

The move produced immediate results as Maharashtra pressed hard for a goal. Ferreira's first chance came in the 79th minute but he failed to control his shot which flew over the cross bar.

Two minutes earlier, UP were down to 10 men when referee Saji Kurien booked defender Roopesh Singh for the second time, which resulted in his expulsion. He also booked four other players from either side.

Maharashtra, who also played with internationals Khalid Jamil and Alex Ambrose, scored the consolation goal after Ambrose probed into the rival box. With the Maharashtra forwards

closing in Ferreira was brought down by an UP defender, resulting in a penalty.

Jamil made no mistake from the spot though the goal came a bit too late in the day to save Maharashtra.

Andhra Pradesh gave Bengal a tough workout and the 3-0 score line never really conveyed the true picture. Bengal, who rested regulars Noel Wilson and Chandan Das, never dominated Andhra but struck telling blows in the second, 43rd and 83rd minutes to advance to the quarter-final league.

Bengal will play their first quarter-final match against Services on October 24.

Striker Rahim Nabi gave Bengal an early advantage, putting his side ahead before AP settled down. Though Bengal tried to double the lead in the next few minutes, AP defended well with their custodian Omer Khan effecting some fine saves.

The Andhra players never looked overawed by the might of their opponents as Mohd Qizer, Ayaz Abdul Haq and Mohd Azeem made inroads in rival territory.

Qizer almost equalled for AP in the 18th minute but Bengal 'keeper Abhijit Mandal managed to block the shot. The rebound came to Haq, who failed to score.

Nabi got a verbal bashing from the Bengal coach for wasting a good chance but the striker immediately made amends, scoring his side's second goal after connecting a cross from Mehtab

Hossain.

He then celebrated his hat-trick two minutes later but the celebration was shortlived as he was ruled off-side.

The second half again saw Andhra doing all the hard work but Bengal scoring their third goal when Hossain curved in a free-kick seven minutes before the final whistle.

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