Bengal too good for Manipur

Football Santosh Trophy: Defending champions pocket their 31st title

The hard-fought victory was the 31st title for the side from East India, after having won the Santosh Trophy last season as well. Goals from their striker Branco Cardozo and midfielder Budhiram Tudu were enough to see them home while Manipur pulled one back through Nabachandra Singh.

Both the teams started on an aggressive note. While Manipur went all out for an early goal, Bengal preferred to play sensibly and gained in confidence as they played the waiting game.

Branco put Bengal ahead in the 21st minute. He blasted a Francis Fernandes pass from the top of the box as Bengal went into the interval with a one-goal lead. Bengal doubled their lead just three minutes in to the second half when midfielder Tudu found the back of the net when he tapped in from close.  

With no other option left, Manipur went all out. It paid dividends when Nabachandra Singh reduced the margin in the 75th minute.  Inspired, they did launch a series of attacks but were unable to find the equaliser which would have taken the game into extra time, giving Bengal another Santosh Trophy victory to savour.

Bengal now have won their second consecutive title after a lull of 11 years since emerging champions in 1999.  In the last edition, Bengal had beaten Punjab 2-0 in the final to regain the trophy.

Result (final): Bengal: 2 (Branco Cardozo 21st, Budhiram Tudu 48th) bt Manipur: 1 (Nabachandra Singh 75th).

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