In an exciting summit clash, hosts Kerala came from behind to defeat West Bengal 5-4 in a penalty shoot-out to win the 75th National Football Championship for the 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 their first victory on home soil since 1993. West Bengal reached their 46th final overall, but they were unable to add to their record 32 titles, and Kerala maintained 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.
Bengal had been content with defending deep since scoring. They made no attempt to attack or hold on to the ball. And that extra cautious move almost paid off, but the hosts, backed up by a raucous crowd, did not give up and were rewarded. The crowd erupted when substitute Bibin Ajayan headed in Noufal P.N’s brilliant cross.
As a result, the game went to penalties, and both teams played mind games.
At one point, both teams changed goalkeepers, and Priyant even took a penalty. Kerala won the Santosh Trophy for the seventh time, 5-4, thanks to Sajal Bag’s missed penalty, as fireworks illuminated Malappuram’s sky and wild celebrations in the stands erupted.
(Inputs from ANI)