Thursday, March 30, 2023

Bengal enter Santosh Trophy final

Football powerhouse Bengal outplayed a lacklustre Manipur 3-0 to storm into the Santosh Trophy final for the 46th time, here on Friday.
Before the Manipuri outfit could blink, the record 32-time champions slammed in two goals via Sujit Singh (2’), Mohammed Fardin Ali Molla (7’) to give them a 2-0 lead at the break.
Dilip Orawn (74’) completed the tally for Bengal with a peach of a strike to set up a summit clash against hosts Kerala here on May 2.
The last time Bengal advanced into the final was in the 2017-19 season when they lost to Kerala on penalties at their home venue of Salt Lake Stadium. The Monotosh Chakladar-led outfit could not have asked for a better start as the young turk Sujit took a first-time effort from outside the area.
In the space of five minutes, Molla made the most of a loose ball spilled by keeper Chingkhei Meitei.
Molla then took a step to the left and then back to the right before unleashing a powerful shot from just inside the box to make it 2-0 as early in the seventh minute, that also brought up his fifth goal of the competition.
Bengal slowed down the pace thereafter and could have conceded a goal in the 32nd minute but their goalkeeper Priyant Kumar Singh made two excellent double saves to deny Manipur’s Lunminlen Haokip and Romen Singh.
In the 66th minute, a superb move from the midfield saw Somishon Shirak get a clean through on goal with just the keeper to beat but he fluffed his shot.
Bengal virtually sealed it in the 74th minute when Orawn put in a high looping cross at the far post, but it was just too perfect and the ball nestled its way right into the top corner, dipping just at the right time.
Manipur made some array of attacks afterwards but Priyant stood tall under the bar to ensure a clean sheet for them.


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