Santosh Trophy

City boys stumble on first hurdle

CHANDIGARH:Five times champions Kerala hammered Chandigarh 5-1 in their opening Group A match of the Santosh Trophy 2018 at the Rabindra Sarobar Stadium in Kolkata on Monday.

City boys stumble on first hurdle

Players vie for the ball during a Santosh Trophy match between Chandigarh (red) and Kerala. AIFF

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 19 

Five times champions Kerala hammered Chandigarh 5-1 in their opening Group A match of the Santosh Trophy 2018 at the Rabindra Sarobar Stadium in Kolkata on Monday.

Jithin MS scored a brace (11th and 51st minute) and provided two assists to guide his team to a facile victory. Sajith Poulose (18th), Afdal VK (49th) and Sreekuttan VS (77th) scored the other three goals for Kerala. 

Vishal Sharma scored the lone goal for Chandigarh in the 88th minute.

It was an end to end affair at the beginning with both teams starting in a 4-4-2 formation. As the game progressed Kerala slowly took control and started dominating proceedings.

The South Indian outfit broke the deadlock in the 11th minute of the match when Seesan S forwarded a through ball for right winger Jithin MS. The U-21 player received the ball at the edge of the box and found the back of the net comfortably. 

Kerala doubled the lead in 18th minute, Sajith Poulose converting Jithin’s low cross from the right flank.

Chandigarh’s morale was completely down after conceding the second goal while Kerala, on the other hand, increased the tempo as they looked hungry for goals. 

Kerala utilised their wings brilliantly with Jithin leading the side’s attack force. 

They exploited the vulnerability in Chandigarh defence and opened goal mouth on several occasion in the first half.

The teams went into the break with the scoreboard flashing 2-0 in favour 

of Kerala.

Kerala started the second half with the same intensity and their positive approach yielded them their third goal of the game in the 49th minute, striker Afdal VK netting the ball from Jithin’s assist.

Kerala maintained the pressure and piled on Chandigarh’s misery as they

increased their tally to four goals with Jithin completing a brace in the 51st minute.

Coach Satheevan Nil Balan made two changes in the 65th minute. Sreekuttan VS replaced Jithin in the flanks and striker Anurag PC replaced Afdal VK. Chandigarh too made a change as coach Sandeep Singh brought defender Gagan Kalyan in place of Deepak Kumar.

Kerala hammered the final nail in the Chandigarh’s coffin when substitute Sreekuttan struck in the 77th minute. His shot hit the far post and went in. 

Chandigarh pulled one back in the 88th minute, thanks to a strike from Vishal Sharma. 

The northern outfit next meet Manipur on March 21 match. 

Bengal blank Manipur 

In another Group A fixture of the day, the record 32 times champions, Bengal, constantly pressed on the attack as Sumit Das struck a double (sixth and 15th minutes) to give them a 2-0 lead at the break in a display of sheer dominance at the Howrah Stadium.

Das scored off a corner from the rebound to open his account, while he added a second in nine minutes, heading home a Bidyasagar Singh’s cross.

Bidyasagar sealed the issue for Bengal with an 82nd-minute goal in what was a poor clearance from Manipur defence. The Bengal midfielder capitalised on a brilliant work by Sujay Dutta as his shot found the back of the net.

Bengal goalkeeper Ranojit Majumdar should also be given credit for his stellar show under the bar as he thwarted Manipur’s counter attacks to ensure a clean slate for his side.

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