West Bengal put in a stellar second-half performance to rout Maharashtra 5-1 in their second Group A fixture of the 72nd Santosh Trophy on Wednesday at the Sailen Manna Sports Complex in Howrah. The win took Bengal’s tally to 6 points from 2 games.
Fresh from their win over Manipur, Bengal coach Ranjan Chowdhury named an unchanged XI as striker Jiten Murmu continued to lead the line. Meanwhile, Maharashtra coach Augusto D’Silva started with the 5-4-1 formation with Ranjeet Singh lined up as the lone striker.
The hosts squandered a host of chances, looked shaky in defense and needed a special effort from teenage striker Bidyashagar Singh to come from behind and see off a Maharashtra side who played attractive football.
While Bengal pressed high up, opponents Maharashtra managed to take the lead against the run of the play at the other end. Leander Dharmai capitalised on an error to beat Bengal custodian Ranajit Majumder from Kiran Pandhare’s free-kick in the 8th minute.
Having conceded, Bengal began attacking with intensity through Jiten Mumru and Bidyashagar but Maharashtra managed to hold on, defending deep as the first half ended 1-0.
Needing a goal, Bengal came out all guns blazing in the second half. The pressure paid off as the host restored the parity at the 55th minute mark. Sumit Das held off a defender on the left flank and floated in a cross to the far post finding Manotosh Chakladar to slot past Maharashtra keeper Manav Baraskar.
Bengal’s continued pressure yielded another goal in the 62nd minute when Jiten got on the score-sheet after he slotted home from Tirthankar Sarkar’s free-kick to put the Bengal into the lead.
Meanwhile, Maharashtra created anxious moments for the Bengal defense but they lacked the cutting edge to make further inroads. Bengal, thereafter, dominated the proceedings and added their third through Bidyashagar in the 79th minute.
With the confidence of the players understandably soaring high, Bidyashagar made it four in the 82nd minute from Ankit Mukherjee’s pass. Substitute Rajon Barman then slotted in from Babun Das‘ pass to round off the tally at the final whistle.
Bengal will next play Chandigarh on March 25 at the Mohun Began Ground while Maharashtra will face the same opponent at Rabindra Sarobar Stadium on March 23.