Defending champion Services overcame a scare before scoring a badly-needed victory against Gujarat at the Santosh Trophy National football championship here on Tuesday. After losing 0-3 to Manipur in its first match, Services heaved a sigh of relief following its 3-1 win against Gujarat.
The reigning champion conceded the lead in the 20th minute, as Gujarat scored through Jay Kanani. But shortly before half-time Services equalised through Nikhil Sharma.
Then just four minutes into the second half, Tongbram Krishnakanta Singh put Services ahead. The last goal was netted by Pintu Mahata.
The game’s opening goal came a bit against the run of play. It was the result of a nice move featuring Pranav Kanase and Kanani and some inadequate defending by Services. Kanase’s pass from the right flank into the goal area was neatly converted into a surprising lead by Kanani.
Services’ efforts to get the equaliser bore fruit when Nikhil tapped into the net. A long ball from Ronaldo Singh paved the way for Services’ second goal. It was received inside the box by Vivek Kumar, who smartly set Krishnakanta up to slot the ball home.
Then Mahata’s header, with just five minutes remaining, clinched the issue for Services.
The results: Services 3 (Nikhil Sharma 45, Tongbram Krishnakanta Singh 49, Pintu Mahata 85) bt Gujarat 1 (Jay Kanani 20).
Today’s matches: Rajasthan vs Punjab (Malappuram) 4 p.m.; Kerala vs Meghalaya (Manjeri) 8 p.m.