SUNDARNAGAR: Chandigarh edged past Delhi as they registered a narrow 1-0 in the ongoing Santosh Trophy North Zone Qualifiers Group A match, which was played at MLSM College Ground, Sundernagar Himachal Pradesh earlier on Thursday.
Delhi coach Abhijoy Basu made only one change to his side which lost against Uttar Pradesh in the last match as Nitin Rawat found his name in the starting XI replacing Dilli Ram Sanyasi, while Chandigarh were unchanged from the last match where they registered a 4-1 win over Himachal Pradesh.
The match was equally contested by both the team as the match witnessed more of end-to-end affairs. It was Delhi who created the first chance of the match when Nitin sent a perfect cross at the top of the box to Ankit Kumar Rana, but the U21 striker failed to connect the same.
At the other end, Amandeep Singh heads wide off Girik Khosla’s cross in the box. With both custodians resisting opponents from scoring, both the teams went into the break goalless.
However, in the last quarter of the match, Chandigarh broke the deadlock through Amandeep when he blasted from point-blank range after receiving a short pass from Girik. Energised by a goal, Amandeep created two more chances but first, Delhi keeper Vijay blocked him in a one-on-one situation and later his long ranger was denied by the woodwork.
With today’s win, Chandigarh tops the group with 6 points from two matches while Delhi suffered their second defeat of the tournament. On the other hand, Himachal Pradesh overcame Uttar Pradesh in the seven-goal thriller as they registered a hard fought 4-3 win in the other Group A match played earlier.
UP did not take long to start scoring when Tushar Chaudhary brilliantly headed in from close off Vivek Kaira’s cross from the right flank. However, Himachal replied with a quick goal from Bali. He calmly chested down the ball from Sorav’s long pass at the edge o the box and blasted it into the back of the nets to make it all equal for the host. Ten minutes later, Uttar again went into the lead. Himachal’s defender Sorav brought down Abhishek in the box to give away a penalty to the visitors. Vivek made no mistake from the spot to make it 2-1 for his side.
Himachal’s Hemant cancelled Uttar’s lead in the added time of the first half when he easily tapped in the ball into the net off Bali’s low pass in the box. Uttar came out strong in the second session and dominated the first 15minutes. At the other end, Himachal took the lead and surprised the visitors. Forward, Tenzing Tshepel blasted into the back of the nylons after receiving a perfect pass from Midhun Wilwet.
Himachal players were keyed up after taking the lead and scored their fourth goal when Midhun collected a pass from Sunny Deol in the halfway line, covered some ground dribbling past two defenders and sent a blistering shot from inside the box which finished as a goal.
UP regrouped and tried to control the match in the last 30 minutes. They reduced the margin in the 68th minutes when Ballu headed between the Himachal keeper Hari Haran and the defenders off a curling 25 yards free-kick from Vivek. After scoring the third UP tried hard to find the equaliser but Himachal defenders stood strong and cleared every possible danger. In one of the clearing process, Himachal’s Sorav elbowed Ballu, referee Suchit Toppo showed no mercy to give him marching orders.
With this draw, Himachal kept hopes of making into the final round with 3 points from 2 matches, while UP also have 3 points from same numbers of matches.