Malappuram (Kerala) [India], May 3 (ANI): In an eventful summit clash, hosts Kerala came back from behind and eventually got the better of West Bengal 5-4 in a penalty shoot-out to emerge as champions of the 75th National Football Championship for Santosh Trophy on Monday at the Manjeri Payyanad Stadium in Malappuram.
The hosts now have seven Santosh Trophy titles to their name and it was the first time they won the competition on home soil since 1993.
It was West Bengal’s 46th final overall but they could not add to their record 32 titles and Kerala continued their recent dominance over West Bengal. They had beaten the same side in the first round, as well as in the 2018 Santosh Trophy final, which had also gone to penalties after the game ended in a stalemate.
In the first period of extra time, it was West Bengal who took the lead through Dilip Orawn. Supriya Pandit’s pinpoint accurate cross was met by a diving header from the winger which went beyond the reach of a diving Midhun.
Since scoring, Bengal were content with defending deep. They did not try to attack or try and hold on to the ball. And that extra cautious move almost paid off but the hosts, willed on by a capacity crowd, did not give up and got their just rewards. Noufal P.N’s brilliant cross was put in by substitute Bibin Ajayan as the crowd went wild with joy.
That meant, the match went to penalties and both sides played mind games. Both teams made goalkeeper changes at one point, Priyant even took a penalty. Sajal Bag’s missed penalty meant Kerala won the penalty shoot-out 5-4 to win their seventh Santosh Trophy title as fireworks illuminated Malappuram’s sky and wild celebrations in the stands ensued. (ANI)