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Vijayan saves TN the blushes

Principal Correspondent


  • Kulothungan and Vijayan had quite a few opportunities in the second half
  • Uttaranchal defenders foiled their moves
  • Goalkeeper Hanumant Rawat did his best absorbing two big blows

    FARIDABAD: Seasoned striker Raman Vijayan saved Tamil Nadu the blushes with his 56th minute strike in its 1-0 win over Uttaranchal in the Cluster VIII league match of the National Football championship for the Santosh Trophy here on Monday.

    The Mohammedan Sporting forward, Vijayan, volleyed a cross from P. Muthu to give Tamil Nadu a big respite after Uttaranchal had it in a bind with an overtly defensive game.

    "I expected more than five goals from this game, but given that we had less time to practice together as a team three points should cheer the boys up for the coming matches," said Tamil Nadu coach Soundarajan.

    Not misplaced

    Soundarajan's expectations were in no way misplaced. Forwards Kulothungan and Vijayan had quite a few opportunities in the second half, but the Uttaranchal defenders foiled their moves. Uttaranchal goalkeeper Hanumant Rawat did his best absorbing two big blows and stood between Tamil Nadu and the goals.

    "Uttaranchal played one-to-one and marked our strikers very well making it difficult to score," said Soundarajan.

    After a goalless first half, it was Uttaranchal that made the first realistic attacking move. Rakesh Shah and Jatin Bedi cut through the middle to earn a corner. Kranti Dev hit an ambitious left-footer that sailed just over the post in the 46th minute.

    Ten minutes later, Muthu surged ahead from the right flank and set up Vijayan, who controlled the ball with his left foot and banged it in on the volley.

    Raising the tempo

    Uttaranchal again raised the tempo and had Tamil Nadu on its back foot. Shah got a clear ball in the box but shot into the hands of Tamil Nadu custodian V.P. Sathish Kumar.

    Playmaker J. Auxiano almost gave Tamil Nadu its second goal when he set up Vijayan in the 72nd minute. Vijayan controlled the ball nicely but hit it out, just five yards from the post and only the goalkeeper to beat.

    Two minutes from close Tamil Nadu wasted yet another chance when a move by Kulothungan and Muthu was spoiled by Rawat, who took the second blow while saving.

    In another Cluster VIII match, Jharkhand defeated Tripura 5-1 with Lal Mohan striking three goals. Mohan scored in the 18th, 36th and 87th minutes as Jharkhand posted its first win in the league. C.M. Soren made the breakthrough in the fifth minute before Mohan came up with his goals. Dharmender (50th) was the other scorer for Jharkhand. For Tripura, Utpal Chaudhary scored in the 60th minute.

    Goalless draw

    In a Cluster VI match, Gujarat and Nagaland played out a goalless draw after holding Karnataka to a goalless draw earlier in the tournament. In the last league match on Wednesday, a win for Karnataka against Nagaland will put the former champion into the pre-quarterfinals.

    With the points position in Cluster VII tantalisingly poised, the organisers have rescheduled Tuesday's matches. Both the last league matches, between Delhi and Railways and Jammu and Kashmir and Orissa, will be played simultaneously instead of at different times.

    Tuesday's fixtures: At Faridabad: Orissa v Jammu and Kashmir, Railways v Delhi. At Gurgaon: Andhra Pradesh v Himachal Pradesh, Manipur v Chhattisgarh.

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