69th Santosh Trophy: Punjab and Bengal draw; Mizoram beats Railways
West Bengal and Punjab played a goalless draw in a crucial quarterfinal match of the 69th Santosh Trophy in Ludhiana on Saturday, March 7. In another match, defending champions Mizoram beat Railways by a solitary goal to become the first Team to qualify for the semis.
Knowing that a victory may seal a semifinal slot for both the Teams, both Bengal and Punjab stayed desperate for a victory. Bengal went into the game with a slight advantage over the hosts having secured six points from their last two wins; whereas Punjab had 4 points in their kitty with a victory and a draw.
Bengal started proceedings of an offensive note and dominated initial spell of the game. However, Punjab made a comeback and started dominating the match after the 20th minute. In the 26th minute, Rajbir Singh took a powerful shot which was palmed away by the Bengal goalkeeper but an unmarked Prabjhot Singh failed to tap the rebound into the net as his shot went wide.
In the 29th minute, Punjab failed to convert from outside the box after Rajbir was brought down. But skipper Ravinder shot it wide. A minute later, Sunny's powerful shot narrowly missed the mark. On the other side in the 4rd minute, an acrobatic Punjab custodian Jagroop Singh denied Bengal's Jiten Murmu tipping it over. Jiten also muffed up a free-kick from just outside the box at the stroke of half-time but he shot over.
After a barren first half, Bengal's Saikat Saha Roy hit the woodwork in the 55th minute and the very next minute, an alert Jagroop came to Punjab's rescue foiling Raja Das' attempt. In the 72nd minute, Manveer missed one-on-one scoring opportunity – the Bengal custodian staying alert. Courtesy the result, Bengal moved to seven points from three matches while Punjab moved to five points.
In a Group B match defending champion Mizoram defeated Railways at the Guru Gobind Singh Stadium in Jalandhar by solitary goal win and in the process qualified for the Santosh Trophy semifinals.
(Report & Photo courtesy AIFF Media)