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Heroic Basant denies Bengal full points

Subash Singh gave them the much-needed equaliser, but it was Basant Singh, their goalkeeper, Manipur thanked for the narrow escape, reports Abhishek Hore.

sports Updated: Jun 04, 2009 23:31 IST
Abhishek Hore

Subash Singh gave them the much-needed equaliser, but it was Basant Singh, their goalkeeper, Manipur thanked for the narrow escape. His sensible piece of work, when it mattered most, put paid to Bengal's hopes of earning full points in a quarterfinal league match of the 63rd National Championships for the Santosh Trophy on Thursday.

Gouranga Biswas's inability to finish off the easiest of tasks also aided Basant and his team, who fought back through Subash's effort, exactly 48 minutes after P Lalampuia had helped Bengal take the upper hand with a trademark strike.

The final hooter was round the corner at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, when Biswas, who had just Basant to beat, messed up, aiming at the goalkeeper instead of the net. In the ensuing melee, the Manipur backline cleared the ball to safety. Bengal could not believe their luck, but Manipur heaved a sigh of relief, as they are now almost certain to progress to the semifinals.

Under pressure following their none-too-impressive showing against Tamil Nadu, Bengal dished out a much-improved display and looked the better team in the first half.

Subho Kumar provided the first real opportunity with a brilliant through ball and the in-form Lalampuia did the rest. Turning to his left, the Mohun Bagan striker foxed a defender before slotting it past Basant. In the hunt for an equaliser, Manipur wasted a golden opportunity when Joychandra Chandra Singh, running from the centre, failed to connect a Reysiang Vashum's through ball from the right.

Playing a near-perfect game, Manipur created a lot more chances in the second session, and the reward came in the form of Subash's strike.

Punjab prevail

For all their dominance, Tamil Nadu could not prevent Punjab from eking out a 1-0 win in the day's second match.

The hosts were calling the shots till substitute P Mahlima earned Punjab a penalty.