J&K shared the spoils with Haryana in the day’s other match…
Punjab brushed aside Uttarakhand as they registered a comfortable 3-0 win in the Santosh Trophy North Zone Qualifiers Group B match played at MLSL College Ground, Sundernagar Himachal Pradesh earlier today.
Both the sides started the match on an attacking note as first 15 minutes witnessed an end-to-end affair from both the ends. In between these, both the teams had a chance each to go into an early lead. First, Uttarakhand skipper Raja Rawat nicely curled a free-kick in the box to Subham Rawat, but the midfielder’s free header from six yards went wide. At the other end, Punjab’s Harshdeep Singh tried to find Rajbir Singh in the box but Uttarakhand keeper Vipin Singh cleared the move on time to keep his side away from any damage.
However, he did not hold the clean sheet for a longer period as within the next three minutes Punjab opened their tally through Rajbir. Harshdeep once again came up with a curling cross in the box to Rajbir and he did a fantastic job to push the ball into the net.
Keyed up by a goal, Punjab created two more chances. First, Baltej Singh’s header missed the target by a whisker off Harshdeep’s corner. A few minutes later, Baltej was once again unlucky as his shot from six yards hit the post and went out with defenders and keeper Vipin beaten.
Even after being denied twice, Bajtej never let his morale go down and scored an easy goal when Rajbir’s powerful shot was very well blocked by custodian Vipin but he failed to clear the ball out of danger and the ball rolled to well positioned Baltej who tapped it in from point-blank range to make it 2-0 for Punjab. He had one more chance to score his second but like previously, this time also he was denied by the woodwork.
The second session saw Punjab dominating the match by keeping the possession. However, Uttarakhand tried hard to find the goals but seemed to lack ideas in the final third. Taking advantage of the same, Punjab created numerous attacks on the opponents. Abdul Shamim found Rajbir in the box with a perfect cross from the right but the midfielder shot sky-high from 12 yards. Uttarakhand Keeper Vipin was in the action again when he made a diving effort to deny Harshdeep from scoring. In the last quarter, Punjab scored their third goal of the match through Rajbir. The forward nicely jelled up with Harpal Singh for a one-two at the top of the box and easily shot past keeper Vipin.
In the day’s other match, Jammu & Kashmir came from a goal down to hold Haryana in the Group B encounter. Haryana had a chance in the very first minute but their striker Parveen Kumar shot wide from close with only keeper Reyaz Ahmad to beat. J & K replied with a quick attack when Ubaid Haroon nicely set up a through pass in the box to Amanjot Singh but the striker failed to put power in his shot from close and Haryana keeper Ravit Balhara easily collected the ball.
After that, J & K were dominating the match but Haryana surprised them with a goal on the counter-attack. Amarjeet covered some ground after receiving a pass from Parveen, dribbled past one defender to enter the box and shot on goal from a difficult angle but J & K keeper Reyaz also found it difficult to stop it and the ball finished in the back of the nylons. J & K went into the break a goal down but came out strongly and completely outclassed Haryana in the second half. They marched many times on opponents but every move broke down in the final third.
However, in the dying minutes of the match, Mir Abdul Hanan scored the equaliser for the J & K. The Haryana shot-stopper could not handle Abdul’s header as he spilled the ball and couldn’t clear it cleanly. Taking advantage of the situation the midfielder tapped in the ball home.
With an easy win over Uttarakhand, Punjab sit at the top of the table with three points. J & K and Haryana have a point each, while Uttarakhand are at the bottom of the table after the first round matches of Group B.
Report by Khel Now Correspondent Ravish Narvekar from Goa. A true Football enthusiast & a diehard Liverpool fan. Ravish also enjoys travelling & he’s an avid foodie.