Kerala edged past Bengal 1-0 to qualify for the semi-finals as Group A toppers on Tuesday. Maharashtra routed Manipur 7-2 in an inconsequential clash in the second Santosh Trophy match of the day.
At Mohun Bagan ground, two of the best sides of Santosh Trophy 2018, Bengal and Kerala locked horns. Bengal needed a win to qualify as the group toppers while Kerala needed just a draw as they were ahead on goal difference.
The Southern state chose a pragmatic approach and played calculated football against the hosts. Bengal dominated proceedings initially but failed to create an impact in the attacking third.
They came close to a goal on three occasions in the first half, including a glaring open net miss. Bidyasagar Singh squared the ball across the face of goal from the right flank but Sujay Dutta failed to tap in from close range.
Kerala started the second half with more intensity but their focus was to nullify Bengal’s attack in the midfield. They succeeded at that as the hosts struggled to carve out clear-cut chances.
The visitors, on the other hand, came very close on a couple of occasions. Youngster Jithin MS was once again the livewire down the flank for Kerala and created chances. It was from Jithin’s cross in the 90th minute from which Rahul KP netted the winning goal for the South Indian state.
At Howrah Stadium, Maharashtra and Manipur played out the highest-scoring match of the tournament so far as it ended 7-2 in favour of the west-central state.
Ranjeet Singh scored a hattrick to help his side bow out of the tournament in style. It was an inconsequential clash as neither of these sides had a chance to qualify for the semis.’
Manipur took the lead via Chanso Haram’s strike in the 17th minute but Sahil Bhakare equalised for Maharashtra in the 28th minute. Manipur restored the lead in the 40th minute when Dhananjoy Singh converted a penalty.
Maharashtra’s goal fest began in the second half as Ranjeet Singh scored in the 59th, 78th and 91st minute. The other goals were scored by Nikhil Prabhu, Kiran Pandhare and Mohammed Rahman Ansari in the 76th, 87th and 93rd minute respectively.