Bengal hammer Maharashtra 5-1; Chandigarh hold Manipur 1-1
Kolkata, Mar 21 (PTI) Continuing their rampaging run, defending champions Bengal routed Maharahstra 5-1 for their second successive victory in the Santosh Trophy, the national football championship, here today.
Leander Dharmai scored for Maharashtra against the run of play in the eighth minute as the visitors led the first-half at Sailen Manna Sports Complex in Howrah Maidan.
A regrouped Bengal returned strongly in the second half as the record 32-time champions pumped in a flurry of goals through Monotosh Chakladar (55th), Jiten Murmu (62nd), Bidyasagar Singh (79th and 82nd) and Rajan Barman (89th) to complete a stunning victory.
Bengal, who had blanked Manipur in their opening fixture on March 19, now sit atop the the group A table with six points, followed by Kerala who have three points from one match.
The hosts will now shift base to Rabindra Sarovar Stadium in Kolkata to take on Chandigarh after a four days' break.
Bengal will face Kerala in their last group A league fixture on March 27.
In another match of group A, it was all square after an exciting second-half as Chandigarh managed to cancel out Manipur's goal for a one-all stalemate.
Manipur's Ngangbam Naocha gave the lead in the 25th minute but Chandigarh equalised through U-21 player Vivek Rana in the 66th minute from Vishal Sharma's assist from the right flank.
Both Manipur and Chandigarh thus opened their tally with one point each.
At the Howrah Maidan, Bengal were in the backfoot conceding an early goal but their defence did not allow any further inroads despite some desperate attempts by Maharashtra.
Chakladar opened the floodgates for Bengal from an Ankit Mukherjee cross in the second-half.
Bengal won a free kick outside the box. A beautiful assist by Tirthankar Sarkar and an absolute finesse header by captain Murmu helped them trail past Maharashtra.
Bidysagar scored back to back goals to make it 4-1 for Bengal, before Barman sealed the issue with a stunning goal