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Santosh Trophy: Bengal beat Goa 1-0, crowned champions for a record 32nd title

A brilliant late strike from Manvir Singh helped Bengal beat Goa to emerge as the champions of 71st Santosh Trophy in Goa on Sunday. It was the 32nd victory for Bengal and also the 6th victory against Goa in their seven appearances against Goa in the final. The match ended 0-0 in the regulation time. But Manvir Singh sealed the fate for Bengal with a left footer in the dying minutes of extra time.

The game that promised so much, delivered little, with Bengal having the lion’s share of possession and the greater of the chances. Goa started with an unchanged line up from their semi-final win against Kerala. Goa’s best chance came twelve minutes after the start when Aaren D’Silva was lucky to get the ball off a defensive rebound, but with his back facing the goal, he failed to turn and take a shot past the Bengal keeper Sankar Roy. Ten minutes later Bengal thought they went ahead when Basanta Singh had the ball in the back of the net, however the referee ruled that he controlled the ball with his hand and he received a booking for his offence. Then just before half time Bengal nearly took the lead when a defensive clearance by Peter Carvalho fell straight to Bishal Pradhan who unleashed a powerful pile driver that went just past the side post.

Goa’s best chance in the second half came off a Brian Mascarenhas free kick which went inches above the cross bar. That was about it for Goa as Bengal started to dominate possession, create chances and smother almost all of Goa’s attacks. Goa then suffered a jolt when right back Nicolau Colaco had to be replaced by George D’Souza (72nd minute). The forced change appeared to unsettle Goa’s defenders. Manvir Singh and his strike partner Basanta Singh, in particular, started to exploit Goa’s weakness on the right flank. On one occasion, it needed a crucial block from Melvin Lobo to deny Basanta a sure goal, while just seven minutes before the end of regulation time, Bruno Colaco was forced into a fingertip save after Basanta cut in from the left and unleashed a curler. Goa had a chance to nick it just seconds before the final whistle but Glan’s weak shot, after he was brilliantly put in by Liston, was saved by the keeper.

In the first period of extra time, Bengal left off from where they started and they nearly scored the opening goal. Basanta Singh’s header rebounding off Peter and crashing off the underside of the cross bar. Luckily for Goa the ball didn’t cross the line. The second period of extra time too saw George D’Souza being completely exposed on the right side of defence with Basanta and Manvir both making mazy runs and cutting inside leaving Goa on the edge. Just when Bengal were getting ready for their second successive tie breaker, Goa’s weakness on the right came to haunt them in the 119th minute when Manvir Singh after receiving the ball from Shaikhom Ronald Singh, brilliantly turned a defender and shot past the outstretched Bruno Colaco leaving the huge crowd shocked.

A satisfied Bengal coach Mridul Banerjee dedicated the win to Jiten Murmu.

“I told my boys to play their natural game without thinking about the final. It was a team effort as everyone of them contributed for the win. All my four defenders were outstanding in the final. We dedicate the win to Jiten Murmu.”

Murmu had to return back to Kolkata since he was registered in I League with East Bengal.

The victorious Bengal team will be arriving in Kolkata tomorrow evening.

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