As they walked into the Nehru Stadium here on Monday, the Services players watched Railways scoring the two late goals against Odisha that brought a 2-1 verdict.

Defending National champion Services’ stars knew what they had to do. They just had to score more goals against Madhya Pradesh in the 67th Santosh Trophy here. That was the plan, for, after playing out a goalless draw with the Railways in its Group ‘A’ opener here a couple of days ago, the goal average would decide the lone semifinal berth from the group.

And, striker V.V. Farhad fired in three goals as Services thrashed Madhya Pradesh 6-0 to end the day with a huge advantage.

Strong start

Unlike in its opener, Services began strongly. It went on an attacking spree and struck early. There were two goals in a three-minute spell in the first half with Farhad finding the net with a smartly angled shot from the right in the 25th minute as MP defender Shiwang Kumar watched helplessly.

A couple of minutes later, the other forward, Subrata Sarkar, found the net, utilising a perfect cross from the left from Shadip Rai. Services used the flanks wisely — Shadip, especially, was running tirelessly on the left — to advance and reaped the rewards.

Services would have made it 3-0 soon after the half-hour mark, but Farhad failed to connect a Dileep cross from the left. In between, Services custodian Nano Singh made an acrobatic save to deny Sourav Chander.

With MP failing to put up much of a resistance and goalkeeper Ishwar Prasad also looking shaky, the goals came easy for Services. Three more came in the second session with midfielder L. Mawia (86th minute) and Farhad scoring twice in two minutes towards the end.

Bouncing back

Earlier, Railways bounced back after conceding an early goal to defeat Odisha 2-1. Abhimanyu Pandey gave Odisha the lead in the 28th minute which it hung on to bravely, holding possession stubbornly for long periods, till the 73rd minute. But former champion Railways fought back, scoring twice in the space of 11 minutes through M. Regin and Amrinder Singh.

After two games each in the group, Services and Railways now have four points each while Odisha has three and MP is yet to open its account.

The results: Group A: Services 6 (V.V. Farhad 25, 90, 90+1; Subrata Sarkar 28, Lalramnieng Mawia 58, 86) bt Madhya Pradesh 0; Railways 2 (M. Regin 74, Amrinder Singh 85) bt Odisha 1 (Abhimanyu Pandey 28).

Tuesday’s matches: Group C: UP vs. J&K Kerala vs. Haryana

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