Santosh Trophy 2018: Kerala, West Bengal set up final date
The semi-finals of the 72nd Santosh Trophy are over with that we have our two finalists for this year -- Kerala and West Bengal. The two sides will meet in the final on the 1st of April. The final will take place in Kolkata where reigning champions West Bengal will look to lift the trophy once again.
Earlier this afternoon, the two sides played their semi-final matches: Kerala against Mizoram and West Bengal against Karnataka.
West Bengal eased to a 2-0 win over Karnataka in the first semi-final to book their place in the final. The 32-time champions cruised to victory with the help of goals from skipper Jiten Murmu and Tirthankar Sarkar.
Bengal tried to create pressure on Karnataka from the get-go with an early chance falling to the home side from a Tirthankar Sarkar free-kick. There was also an injury scare for Bengal early on as Krishna Biswas went down due to impact. However, he was back on his feet quickly and the play resumed. Bengal broke the deadlock after half-time when skipper Jiten Murmu scored. Bengal looked comfortable from that point onwards and finished the game off in stoppage time when Tirthankar scored.
Elsewhere, Kerala took on Mizoram and won by a goal to nil. Afdal scored for the Southern side when he calmly slotted the ball into the back of the net after a superb run from star player Jithin M.S.
Both sides created chances and tried to put pressure on each other. Mizoram was the better side early on and came close to breaking the deadlock after a string of attacks. Kerala scored against the run of play in the second half and would go on to protect that lead till the end. Mizoram pushed hard for an equalizer but Kerala held firm and denied them a way back into the game.
The sides will now face each other on the 1st of April, Sunday in Kolkata in what will be the 72nd final of the Santosh Trophy. The home side will look to lift the trophy for the 33rd time but to do so will have to defeat another good side in Kerala, to whom they've already lost once in the group stage.