Santosh Trophy 2018: Kerala edge past West Bengal, Maharashtra rout Manipur 7-2
West Bengal and Kerala will play their respective semi-final matches on March 30.
West Bengal lose their first game
Kerala maintained their winning streak by virtue of a 1-0 defeat against hosts West Bengal to ensure they finish at the top of Group ‘A’. On the other hand, Maharashtra outclassed Manipur 7-2 to finish at the third spot of the group but failed to qualify for the semi-finals.
With both the teams already qualifying for the semi-finals, the match only decided which team remained at the top. Kerala and West Bengal are by far two of the most dominant teams in the competition.
West Bengal needed a win to top the group as Kerala were ahead by goal difference. Coach Ranjan Choudhury played safe by resting Bengal’s some of the senior players to ensure their availability for the all-important semi-finals. Although West Bengal dictated terms in the first half of the game, they failed to convert easy chances. Sujoy Datta missed a sitter which could have easily changed the fate of the game.
Kerala started the second half on a positive note and created opportunities at regular intervals. After failing to do the needful, their star player Jithin M.S came to the rescue once again and netted in the 90th minute to seal the deal for the South Indian team at the Mohun Bagan ground.
Maharashtra scored 7 goals!
The other match, on the contrary, saw 9 goals scored on a sultry afternoon at the Howrah Stadium! Maharashtra scored 7 goals and conceded two during the course of play. Although the match was a dead rubber since both the teams were out of the tournament, yet Maharashtra would be pleased with the massive victory over Manipur.
Actually, Manipur took the lead in the 17th minute by Chanso Haram’s strike but they could not hold to the lead conceding the first in the 28th minute. Maharashtra took the lead in the 59th minute. Since then, it was a one-sided affair. The last quarter of the game saw the Westerners score 5 goals in the 76th, 78th, 87th, 91st and 93rd minute. Ranjeet Singh scored a hat-trick during the match.
With Kerala and West Bengal qualifying from Group ‘A’, it will be interesting to see who they will face in the last four which is scheduled to be played on Friday.