Mizoram and Punjab played out a goal-less draw to split points in a Group B match of the 71st Santosh Trophy football tournament at Tilak Stadium here today.
With today's draw, Mizoram and Punjab took their tally to four points each from two matches. Mizoram, who have a better goal difference, are at the top of the points table.
Mizoram, who started well stitching good moves with quick short passes, had a couple of early chances but it was Punjab keeper Paramjit Singh who brought off fine saves to deny Lalsangbera Sangbera and V Lalchhuanawma Vanchhawng from scoring.
Punjab failed to play a cohesive game in the first half as they failed to come up with constructive moves. They tried to use the long ball to break the rival defence and nearly succeeded in the 15th minute when Vijay Kumar shot from close ranged only to be palmed away to safety by rival keeper Lalruatpuia.
After the change of ends, Punjab were more thrustful and had two close chances to score. A Manvir Singh header was parried by rival keeper Lalruatpuia.
Mizoram retaliated and had a chance to score but Lalbiakailua failed to connect Lalrinchhana's goal-bound shot.
In another match, Kerala opened their campaign on a winning note as they scored a comfortable 4-2 win against Railways in Group B at the GMC Stadium in Bambolim.
Jobby Justin was the star of the match for Kerala, scoring a fine hat-trick, the first of the tournament.
Playing a compact 4-4-2 formation with plenty of attacking play via the wings, Kerala regularly troubled the Railways defenders who were time and again caught napping.
Railways had no answer to Kerala's attacking prowess. Even though Railways scored the opener, conceding goals at regular intervals hurt them badly as they suffered their second straight loss in their campaign.
Services, surprisingly, drew first blood in the 17th minute when a defensive lapse in the Kerala half allowed Rajesh Soosanyakam to score his second of the tournament.
Kerala though immediately got back to business and found the equaliser four minutes later when a delightful cross by Nishon Xavier from the right found Joby Justin who buried it in the goal through a fine header.
Joby scored his second goal just before half time with a fine free kick that beat the Railways keeper Akhil Kumar all ends up. Kerala went into the lemon break with a 2-1 lead.
Kerala started the second half in the same way they ended it. Jobby Justin secured his hat-trick in the 63rd minute through a header from a corner.
In the 71st minute, Kerala captain Usman P scored from a cross by Jishnu Bala Krishnan to give Kerala a 4-1 lead with just 15 minutes of play remaining.
There was some consolation for Services right at the end though when Rajesh Soosanyakam struck for the second time after he beat the off side trap off a free kick and slotted the ball home.