Kerala reign supreme after shoot-out

Kerala reign supreme after shoot-out

Kerala held their nerves to beat Bengal via penalty shootout as they clinched their sixth Santosh Trophy at the Salt Lake Stadium here on Sunday.

Locked 2-2 after extra time, Kerala goalkeeper Midhun V put up a stellar show in the tie-breaker to help his side win 4-2.

Ankit Mukherjee and Nabi Hussain Khan missed the first two penalty kicks for Bengal as Midhun thwarted both their attempts.

Tirthankar Sarkar and Sanchayan Samadder's conversion did not help as Kerala scored through Rahul V Raj, Jithin Gopalan and Jestin George.

For the final kick, Jiten Murmu took on the gloves but Seesan S shot past him to deliver Kerala their first Santosh Trophy title since 2004-05.

Earlier Jithin MS gave Kerala a 19th minute lead before Bengal captain Murmu restored parity in the 68th minute.

After the regulation time stalemate, Kerala once again went ahead in the extra time when Vibin Thomas found the net with his 117th minute header.

Kerala had the numerical advantage in the last eight minutes  after Rajon Burman was sent off.

But despite the odds, Sarkar scored late from a curling free kick in the 120+6th minute to take the game into the tie-breaker.

However, it was a heartbreak for Bengal as they failed to defend their crown as the Satheevan Balan coached-side kept a clean record to clinch their sixth title.

The hosts were on the attack straightaway as Sarkar had two free-kick chances from the left side of the area within the first six minutes.

But it was Kerala who broke the deadlock against the run of play when Gopalan intercepted a ball in the centre of the park and found Seesan close by. He then showed some great vision to release Jithin on the run and the winger slotted past Bengal goalkeeper Ranajit Majumder.

All attempts by Bengal forwards were thwarted by the southern side.

Bengal then finally put their foot on the gas and scored when Chakladar found the back of the net with a delectable left-footer.

In the 117th minute, Kerala took advantage of the extra man and Jestin's cross from the left was headed home by Thomas.

However, Sarkar had other plans when he converted from a free-kick from 25 yards in the sixth minute of injury time, taking the game to a shootout.

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