Kolkata, Mar 20:
Mizoram produced a stunning upset to down six-time champions Goa 3-1, while an own goal by Odisha gave Punjab a lucky 2-1 win, in the group B opening fixtures of the national football championship for the 72nd Santosh Trophy here today.
Goa drew the first blood through captain Victorino Fernandes in the 11th minute but it was a one-way traffic for Mizoram from the 25th minute onwards as F Lalrinpuia brought the scores level before Lal Romawia’s brace (81st and 84th) sealed three points for the 2013-14 winners at the Rabindra Sarobar Stadium.
Former champions Punjab also rallied from a goal down to beat Odisha 2-1 at the Sailen Manna Sports Complex in Howrah Maidan.
Mizoram went on top of the group with with three points and lead Punjab on a better goal difference.
After a goalless stalemate in the first-half, Arpan Lakra gave Odisha the lead in the 62nd minute their joy was shortlived, with Sarbjit bringing up the equaliser in a space of seven minutes.
There was more misery in store and Rudra Pratap Pradhan’s own goal (81′) spelt doom for Odisha, handing the Kuldip Singh-coached Punjab three points.
Odisha dominated the proceedings but failed to make use of their opportunities and it was past the hour mark when Lakra found the target after being set up by Sunil Sardar.
A regrouped Punjab stepped up their attack after conceding and Sarbjit found the equaliser from a corner.
Punjab looked a transformed unit after the equaliser as the young Odisha defenders started wilting under pressure. Rudra Prasad found his own net while trying to clear Jagdip Singh’s goalbound attempt.
Thereafter, Odisha came close many times, but Punjab defence stuck to its task.
At Rabindra Sarobar, it did not take much time for Goa to stamp their authority on the game.
Marcus Mascarenhas ran from the left side to beat his marker and play a forward pass to India international Victorino Fernandes, who made his way into the box to beat the Mizoram defenders and slot the ball past goalkeeper Laltanpuia Ralte.
Mizoram’s persistent efforts were rewarded when Lalbiakhlua’s shot was stopped by the goalkeeper Ozen Vivian Silva and the loose ball fell to Lalrinpuia. The forward’s first shot was blocked by a defender but he was successful in the second attempt. (PTI)