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Defending champs Bengal set up Santosh Trophy final with Kerala

Bengal will vie for a record 33rd Santosh Trophy title on Sunday after setting up a summit clash with Kerala.

football Updated: Mar 30, 2018 18:48 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
Bengal,Karnataka,Bengal vs Karnataka
Defending champions Bengal will vie for a record 33rd title after setting up a summit clash with Kerala, following their 2-0 win over Karnataka in the semifinals of the 72nd Santosh Trophy. (PTI)

Two moments of individual brilliance in the second half took defending champions Bengal to the final of the 72nd Santosh Trophy where Kerala lie in wait at Salt Lake stadium on Sunday.

Bengal’s 2-0 win at Howrah’s Sailen Manna Stadium against Karnataka in Friday’s semi-final was the result of a turnaround that seemed unlikely till half-time. Then Jiten Murmu struck in the 57th minute with a right- foot flick that was worthy of a man who is leading Bengal’s quest for a 33rd title. Tirthankar Sarkar sealed the deal with a 25-yard free-kick in the second minute of added time.

At Mohun Bagan ground, Kerala beat Mizoram 1-0 through Afdal VK’s goal.

Bengal’s turnaround stemmed almost entirely from a half-time substitution by coach Ranjan Chaudhuri. He replaced left-back Krishna Biswas with central midfielder Sanchayan Samadder and shifted Ankit Mukherjee back from the midfield into the left-back’s role.

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“I had started with Krishna to add some height to the backline as Karnataka have players who are tall. The idea also was to check Leon Agustine (Karnataka’s wide right) but Krishna wasn’t being able to do that. Ankit could and that helped us in the second half,” said Chaudhuri.

What it also did was get Samadder to help Sarkar create from the midfield. The first goal was initiated by Samadder who found Sumit Das with a pass that changed the direction of play. Das hared down the left and played square for Murmu who had found space between Karnataka’s inner defence.

Looking towards Das, Murmu flicked home with his right-foot outstep leaving goalie Shainkhan CP and his mates gobsmacked.

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Karnataka had started with a bang, skipper Vignesh Gunasekhar’s 25-yard free-kick hitting the horizontal. But let down by their quality of play in the front third and Bengal central defenders Sourav Dasgupta and Prosenjit Paul being sure-footed in their tackles, Karnataka had nothing to show barring six corner-kicks and Agustine sneaking in once before being denied by goalie Ranajit Majumder.

Bengal started the second half with Sarkar twice finding Bidyashagar Singh on the right. Then Murmu struck and Singh came close in 72nd minute. In a bid to run down the clock, Murmu latched on to a long ball and held it long enough to win a free-kick. Sarkar curled it so well that even Prasun Banerjee, the former International midfield general who is now Howarh’s MP, wowed in appreciation.

10-man Kerala win

Kerala beat Mizoram 1-0 at Mohun Bagan ground in the other semi-final. The match’s only goal was scored by Afdal VK in the 55th minute when he latched on to a Rahul KP shot which hit the framework and rebounded into play.

First Published: Mar 30, 2018 18:48 IST