Rafi treble powers Maharashtra

Mohammed Rafi scored three goals as Maharashtra rallied to drub Jharkhand 4-1 in their opening Group B quarterfinal league match in the 67th National Football Championship for the Santosh Trophy at the Lal Bahadur Shastri Stadium here on Friday.

Rafi struck in the 30th, 33rd and 46th minutes. Lalrempuia (34th) was the other scorer for Maharashtra.

Bosen Murmu had put Jharkhand ahead in the fifth minute but their joy was short-lived as Maharashtra quickly regrouped and wrested control before Rafi took over the demolition role.

Last year’s runners-up Tamil Nadu and Goa played out a goalless draw in the other Group B game.

Meanwhile in Kochi, hosts Kerala began their campaign with a 2-0 win over Jammu and Kashmir in Group C at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

R Kannan (37th and 63rd) netted both goals for Kerala.

Kerala, under pressure to deliver at home, took time to settle down. With no goals coming, fans were getting restless in the stands before Kannan settled their nerves eight minutes from half-time. Kannan was at it again in the second session as Kerala breathed easy.

Uttar Pradesh beat Haryana 2-1 in another Group C tie. Ballu Verma (8th and 70th) found the mark for UP, while Vikas (5th) scored Haryana’s lone goal.
Karnataka take on West Bengal in Group D at Kollam on Saturday.

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