Third successive defeat for Delhi

Sports Reporter

TIRUCHI: : Delhi crashed to its third successive defeat going down by a 4-0 margin to a steady Services side in a Group `A' league match of the 14th National under-21 (inter zone) football championship at the St. Joseph's College HSS grounds here on Monday.

The Services victory has now thrown the group wide open. Both Delhi and Services have completed its league engagements with the latter collecting six points from two matches. The final clash in this group between host Tamil Nadu and defending champion Punjab scheduled on Wednesday now becomes vital. The host has no other option but to tame the Punjab lions for a semifinal berth. If it manages to do that, it would be a three-way tie between the teams with Tamil Nadu gaining an edge over the others on a better goal-aggregate.

Services takes charge

Back to today's battle, it was the Services forwards who attacked with vigour in the initial stages. The attack was given a lot of width by the fleet-footed Rakesh Basumatary, who engineered the team's opening goal that came in the 17th minute.

Minutes later, Diwas Chhetry and Mahesh Rai followed it up with goal-scoring threats from the flanks only to find the Delhi defence closing the gaps in time. For once, the Delhi custodian, Sandeep Singh Bisht was spot on with his efforts.

Desperately looking for its first win, Delhi drove forward in search of an equaliser but found right back Karaj Singh too strong a guard to tackle.

With only three minutes left for the first-half whistle, Karaj increased the tally for the winner guiding a header home. Bimal Thapa beat a defender in a powerful run down the right touchline. The burst totally upset the balance in Delhi defence. The striker made good use and floated a tempting centre to Karaj, who made no mistake.

The second half was played in a similar fashion with Services dominating on most occasions, but the angles all ended in Delhi's favour. In the seventh minute, however, Mahesh Rai scored the team's third goal with a raging right footer. It was Lalhming Sanga who created the chance for the striker.

In the very next minute, Yogesh Lama could have well increased the margin had his angular shot not hit the top post. As the moments ticked away for the final whistle, Mahesh Rai deceived the Delhi defence and fired at the goal only to find custodian Sandeep thwart his effort. The ball was still lying dangerously close to the goalmouth. Mandeep Singh quickly snatched the chance and deflected the ball home.

Tuesday's match: Karnataka vs Mizoram, 4.15 p.m.

Points table (Group A): Reads as: Played, won, lost, drawn, goals for, goals against, points.

Punjab: 2- 2-0-0-5-1-6; TN: 2-1-1-0-7-1-3; Services: 3-2-1-0-5-1-6; Delhi: 3-0-3-0-1-15-0.

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