Services stun Bengal 2-1 in Santosh Trophy

Bhubaneswar, Feb 13: Services made a strong comeback after trailing by one goal to stun Bengal 2-1 in the 76th National Football Championships for the Santosh Trophy here on Monday.
Naro Hari Shreshta put multiple-time champions Bengal ahead in the 14th minute but Services struck back through goals from P Christopher Kamei (41st) and Bikash Thapa (82nd) to run away with all the three points.
Bengal are without a win after two matches. They just have one point from the draw with Delhi in their opening match.
Bengal head coach Bishwajit Bhattacharya had hoped that a day’s rest, some contemplation and as many as five changes to his starting eleven would galvanise his side that looked lacklustre in their opening match, which they drew with Delhi. But it wasn’t to be.
Despite a bright start, where they pressed high and harried Services off the ball, Bengal were, for the most part, out-thought if not outplayed by a Services team that is proving to be as clinical as they are classy.
Naro Hari Shreshta’s third goal of the final round, scored in the 14th minute, looked to have set up a Bengal resurgence.
Trailing by a goal, Services pressed forward constantly, hurrying the Bengal midfield. But, Bengal held out, ensuring that Services never really had a clear chance at goal, making them shoot from distance.
With barely five minutes to go for the break, a foul conceded by Bengal at the top of the box gifted Services a free kick from 25 yards, and in perfect position for Christopher Kamei to have a pop at the target. He did it perfectly, slotting his shot into the far corner to draw his team level.
Bengal pressed for the lead in the second half but Services goalkeeper and captain Bhabindra Malla Thakuri, a giant of a man anyway, pulled a few brilliant saves to keep his side in the game.
Thakuri’s saves recharged Services, who went on to score the winner in the 82nd minute, with Bikash Thapa slotting home from close range after exchanging passes with Ronaldo Singh in the box. It was enough for Services to wrap up the three points.
In other matches, Meghalaya beat Manipur 1-0 with Brolington Warlarpih scoring the lone goal in the 62nd minute.
Manipur goalkeeper Ngamsanglena Haokip’s horrible error caused his team dearly as he failed to hold Brolington’s free-kick and the ball rolled into the goal.
Railways were also 1-0 winners against Delhi in the third match of the day. (PTI)