Jagtar Singh scored a brace as former champion Railways defeated Delhi 2-1 in the 67th Santosh Trophy National football championship at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Friday.
Jagtar’s goals came in the 17th and 66th minutes while Shashank Mamgan reduced the margin for Delhi in the 35th minute in their Group ‘A’ game.
With West Bengal also in the same group, Railways would be heaving a sigh of relief after the hard-earned victory which offers it a good chance of grabbing one of the two quarterfinal league berths.
Railways had beaten Delhi by the same margin in the championship’s quarterfinal league last year.
In sharp contrast to the opening day’s disappointing fare, Delhi and Railways played with a lot of purpose.
Both teams used the flanks well, with Railway’s C. Sirajuddin, a former Chirag United Kerala player, sending a few accurate long balls into the penalty area.
At the other end, there was a nice combination play and a steady flow of passes between Delhi’s Jagdeep Singh on the right flank, captain Monu Choudhary in the centre and Shashank Mamgan on the left.
Railways’ lead came off a corner.
As the ball floated into the box, Subhashish Roy Choudhary headed it to Jagtar who sent it home with a sliding shot.
Shashank netted the equaliser shortly after the half-hour mark.
The move began from the right with Jagdeep feeding Monu, who then relayed the ball to the fast and lively Shashank on the left wing.
Shashank, rushing in, made no mistake with the header, giving the Railways goalkeeper V.P. Sathish Kumar no chance as the teams went into the break all square.
On resumption, Railway had a bright chance to regain the lead when Balraj Singh sent a long ball into the box, but there was no Railway player to trap the ball. The Delhi defenders were quick to push the ball out of the box.
Railways, however, found the match-winner in the 66th minute as Jagtar tapped home Sirajuddin’s cross from the right.
The result (qualifying round I, Group A): Railways 2 (Jagtar Singh 17 & 66) bt Delhi 1 (Shashank Mamgan 35).
Saturday’s match: Group ‘D’: Chhattisgarh vs Haryana.