Karnataka defeated Assam 3-1 in the group league match of the 27th Senior National Women’s football championship at the Bangalore Football Stadium here on Friday. In the first game of the day played in morning at the same venue, Gujarat drubbed Bihar 3-0 thanks to striker Khushbu Saroj, who earned the distinction of scoring the first hat-trick of the tournament. Khushbu also scored the lone goal for Gujarat in their first game against Karnataka.
Karnataka now have six points from two games having defeated Gujarat earlier in their first match. They still have engagements against Manipur, Kerala, and Bihar to be gone through. But today’s win all but assures them of a top two finish and further advancement in the tournament.
After wingers Sonia Marak on the left and Sanjita Niroula on the right had caused some problems in the opponent defence, Karnataka forged ahead in the 9th minute through a set piece situation. Sonia Marak got past two but was brought down at the edge of the box on the right by Puja Saikia. Striker Maiteryi Palasumudram took the award and produced a curling left-footer that settled into the top near post in what was a wonderful effort.
Barely five minutes later, it was 2-0 as Sanjita Niroula squared the ball into the box from the right. A melee ensued inside the six-yard box and Sonia Marak was on hand to push it home from close. After wrapping up a 2-0 lead, Karnataka relaxed a little. That saw Assam force the pace and see a lot more of the ball, but their strikers lacked the speed to trouble the solid Karnataka defence where Tara and Aruna were hard to beat. Goalkeeper and captain Aishwarya too did a good job of producing timely saves despite her lack of some inches and kept Assam at bay.
Soon after the breather, Karnataka struck once again as Sanjita Niroula produced a rising right-footer from the right which brooked no answer. Thereafter, Karnataka were content to keep the ball among themselves with short passes and the occasional scoring attempt travelled wide or over.
Assam managed to pull one back three minutes before close as Kiranbala Chanu dashed in to find the net to lend some respectability to the scoreline in their first outing of the tournament.