There were goals galore as the hosts grabbed all three points…
Himachal Pradesh overcame Uttar Pradesh in a seven-goal thriller as they registered a hard fought 4-3 win in the Santosh Trophy North Zone Qualifiers Group A match played at MLSM College Ground, Sundernagar Himachal Pradesh earlier today.
Himachal coach Sunil Dutt Sharma made two changes to his side which lost against Chandigarh in the first match as Sorav Kumar and Hemant Thakur found their name in the playing XI, while Uttar Pradesh coach Bhairub Dutt named unchanged starting XI from the last match against Delhi.
The match witnessed attacking football right from the kick-off. The match was just three minutes old when Himachal had a golden opportunity to go into an early lead when Bali Gagandeep cut past one defender and entered the box but shot sky-high in a one-on-one situation from close range. At the other end, UP’s Ballu Varma’s shot missed the target by a whisker.
UP did not take long to open their tally when Tushar Chaudhary brilliantly headed in from close off Vivek Kaira’s cross from the right flank. However, Himachal replied with a quick goal from Bali. He calmly chested down the ball from Sorav’s long pass at the edge of the box and blasted into the back of nylons to bring the hosts level.
Ten minutes later, UP again went into the lead. Himachal’s defender Sorav brought down Abhishek in the box to give away the penalty-kick to the visitors. Vivek made no mistake from the spot and made it 2-1 for his side. Himachal’s Hemant cancelled out Uttar Pradesh’s lead in first half added time when he easily tapped the ball into the net off Bali’s low pass in the box.
Uttar Pradesh came out strong in the second session and dominated the first 15 minutes. UP’s Abhishek found Saddam Hussain at the top of the box but Saadam failed to control his shot and the ball went wide for a goal-kick. Later, Ballu failed to connect in front of an empty goal after receiving a low pass from Shuarabh Sharma.
At the other end, Himachal took the lead and surprised the visitors. The forward Tenzing Tshepel blasted into the back of the nylons after receiving a perfect pass from Midhun Wilwet. He had one more chance to score his second but his shot from the edge of the box brushed the crossbar and went out.
Himachal players were keyed up after taking the lead and scored their fourth goal when Midhun collected a pass from Sunny Deol on the halfway line, covered some ground dribbling past two defenders and sent a blistering shot from inside the box which finished in the goal.
UP regrouped and tried to control the match in the last 30 minutes. They reduced the margin in the 68th minute when Ballu headed between the Himachal keeper Hari Haran and the defenders off a curling 25 yards free-kick from Vivek. After scoring the third UP tried hard to find the equaliser but Himachal defenders stood strong and cleared every possible danger. In one of these attacks, Himachal’s Sorav elbowed Ballu. referee Suchit Toppo showed no mercy to give him the marching orders.
Even after going a man down, Himachal managed to hold the narrow lead till the full-time whistle.
With this win, Himachal kept alive their hopes of making it into the final round with 3 points from 2 matches, while UP also have 3 points from same numbers of matches.
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.