GOA: Meghalaya put up a precise performance on Saturday to beat defending champions Services 2-0 in a Final Round Group B game of the 71st National Football Championship for the Santosh Trophy 2017.
Meghalaya, who suffered consecutive defeats against Goa and Bengal respectively, propelled by two strikes in either half by Dibinroy Nongspung and Bisharlang Kharumnuid at Tilak Maidan in Vasco.
The Highlanders began the game attacking with intent and it just took them seven minutes to take the lead when Nongspung capitalised on a defensive error to put Meghalaya ahead.
Having conceded early on, Services began attacking with intensity. As a matter of fact, Services were all over the Megahaya territory for most part of the session, but what they lacked was the killer sting and whenever they displayed it their efforts either went wide or denied by the rival keeper.
Meghalaya who were defending their citadel, did come up with some moves which were mostly confined to the midfield. The Services defense stood firm and did not allow the Meghalaya strikers to have a clear look at their goal which saw the first half ended 1-0.
Services came out strong in the second half and pushed forward in search of the equalizer. Their pressure nearly paid off when Francis Zountlunga unleashed a volley which miss the target narrowly. Services also had a goal disallowed for offside.
While Services pressed high up, opponents Meghalaya managed to double their lead against the run of the play at the other end when Kharumnuid beat the rival keeper with a left-footer from close range, ensuring victory for his side.
Elsewhere, the hosts Goa were held to a 1-1 draw by Chandigarh at GMC Stadium in Bambolim.
Goa took an early lead in the 13th minute when Aaren D’Silva slotted home from Francis Fernandes’ pass. However, Chandigarh fought back in the second half and equalized through Sehjpal Singh who curled in from outside the box in the 51st minute to share spoils.
After today’s results, Bengal who are on 7 points from 3 games marched into the semi-finals with a game in hand while Chandigarh were eliminated from the competition garnering a mere 4 points from 4 games.
Goa (5 points), Services (3 points) and Meghalaya (3 points) are vying for the other spot available in the Group. Their fates will be decided on Monday when Goa will lock their horns with Services and Meghalaya play against Bengal. However, Goa should be at an advantage as they only need a draw to secure their place in the knockout phase whereas Services and Meghalaya have no choice but to muster a win from their respective games.