Santosh Trophy: Five-star Bengal beat Maharashtra to continue winning run

Bengal routed Maharahstra 5-1 for their second successive victory in the Santosh Trophy on Wednesday.

football Updated: Mar 21, 2018 23:30 IST
Santosh Trophy,Bengal,Maharashtra
Bengal defeated Maharashtra to continue their winning run in the Santosh Trophy.(AIFF)

Trailing by an early goal, Bengal needed to make a statement. And with five second-half goals against Maharashtra they did.

Successive wins in the 72nd Santosh Trophy have now put, according to coach Ranjan Chaudhuri, the group’s steering wheel in Bengal hands. Another victory should assure them of a semi-final spot but Chaudhuri said he would want to qualify with an all-win record because when it comes to boosting a team’s confidence, nothing succeeds like success.

An eighth minute free-kick from Maharashtra caught Bengal unawares and when Leander Dharmai chipped over Kiran Pandhare’s delivery, the home team was left protesting that the goal was scored from an off-side position.

For all their possession, Bengal, who lined up the same team that beat Manipur 3-0 in Monday’s opener, had nothing to show for barring a half-hearted shout for a penalty and a miss, both involving Sumit Das. The hero of their first win, Das, failed to tap in from almost on the goalline after Bidyashagar Singh found him. This was in the 24th minute. The penalty appeal came six minutes later.

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It came together nicely in the second half. The equaliser came in the 55th minute through Monotosh Chakladar. On the hour mark, Jiten Murmu seemed to have scored fair and square but it was disallowed, apparently for a foul. Murmu made amends in the 63rd, getting to the end of a Tirthankar Sarkar free-kick played deep and across the goal from the left.

Singh, who along with Sarkar were the team’s heartbeat in attack, got a brace, scoring in the 80th and 83rd. The first stemmed from a schoolboy error from substitute goalie Faizan Akhtar who spilled Ankit Mukherjee’s delivery from the right and the second from a solo effort after Sarkar found him down the middle. Substitute Rajan Barman rounded off the tally with a powerful strike in the 90th.

For all of the second half, Bengal looked more threatening when they channelled moves down the left. Maharashtra coach Agusto D’Silva said a hamstring injury to right-back Nikhik Prabhu meant he had to be taken off in the 65th. Goalie Manav Barsakar had already been changed because of a calf injury and when Akhtar got in, he hadn’t warmed up properly, said D’Silva. “Those substitutions disrupted our rhythm completely,” he said.

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Singh and Sarkar didn’t need a second invitation. From Sanaram, 36km from Imphal, Singh is 20 and looking to make a mark after not getting a game with East Bengal. Sarkar is older. Having played for Indian Arrows with Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, he joined Mohun Bagan but didn’t get enough gane time. A left quadricep injury then kept him off football for 18 months. Now with Mohammedan Sporting, he is looking to make a comeback.

Point for Chandigarh

Chandigarh and Manipur split points after. 1-1 draw at Rabindra Sarovar stadium. Ngangbam Naocha put Manipur ahead in the 26th minute but Vivek Rana equalised in the 67th. Both teams had lost their opening match.

First Published: Mar 21, 2018 18:37 IST