Hyderabad: Services sprang a surprise, holding title-favourites Bengal to a 1-1 draw, while Goa got past a spirited Maharashtra 2-0 in menís football group B league encounters in the National Games Friday.
Bengal squandered the chance to win the match after taking the lead in the first half as Services equalised through Raghu Kumar ten minutes before the final whistle. Bengal had taken the lead in the 35th minute when skipper Dipendu Biswas converted a penalty.
Services, in fact, made life difficult for Bengal as they fought for every inch of the turf. It was an absorbing affair and the ball constantly travelled from one end to the other.
But the Army men failed to create positive chances in the first half as they failed to penetrate the rival defence.
Bengal, who started off at a fast pace, were well served by striker Syed Rahim Nabi, whose initiative and enterprise kept the Services defenders on tenterhooks throughout.
Bengal took the lead when Services defender Ignatious was pulled up for handling the ball inside the penalty box, and Biswas made no mistake with the resultant spot-kick. Services stepped up the pace in the second session in their quest for the equaliser and were distinctly unlucky in the 56th minute when Vikas Gurungís shot hit the bar.
They finally restored parity in the 80th minute as Bengalís Arunava Sarkar stopped a Pradeep Debnath shot with his hand inside the penalty box and referee Stephen Charles wasted no time in pointing towards the dreaded spot.
Kumar slotted the ball in, giving no chance to Bengal goalkeeper Prasanta Dora.
In the other match, Savio Alphonso and Kannan Priyolkar found the target in the opening session to ensure full points for the Goans, who dominated a better part of the match at Lal Bahadur Shastri Stadium.
Women spikers win
Bengalís womens volleyball team at the National Games beat Karnataka 25-21, 24-26, 25-19, 25-19 in a group A match at the Yousufguda Indoor Stadium on Friday.