Manvir Singh’s 119th-minute left-footer, finally, does the magic for West Bengal who eventually went to beat Goa in the final of the 71st Santosh Trophy to lift their record 32nd Santosh Trophy silverware. Incidentally, it’s the sixth instance when the Western Indian state went down to the Eastern Indian outfit in the Santosh Trophy final, last being in 1998-99.
The match embarked on a fast pace as both outfits tried to unsettle their fellow opponents in the first minutes of the match. Attacks by the West Bengal attackers, especially Basant Singh and Ronald Singh kept the Goan defenders o their toes throughout. Meanwhile, Goa tweaked their strategy and started banking upon their counter-attacking moves to hurl the visitors.
Nicolau Colaco and Liston Colaco, who had a terrific game in the semi-final, kept the West Bengal wing-backs busy until the end of the end of the first half. Basant Singh found the net towards the end of the first half but the referee ruled it offside.
After the changeover, West Bengal came very close to scoring but the Goan custodian Bruno, who eventually was bestowed with the ‘Best Goalkeeper’ award, thwarted the effort to keep the scoreline unscathed.
In their quest for the elusive goal, West Bengal coach introduced another attacker Manvir Singh. In the dying minutes of the second half, Goa had almost scored the winner but the resilient goalie, Sankar Roy showed his astuteness to avert the peril.
As the match went on to the extra-time, West Bengal started pushing their opponents more into their half and dug deep to rattle the net. Within first five minutes, another drama unfolded when Basant Singh, Manvir Singh did everything possible from rattling the crossbar to hitting the goalie but eventually, the Goan defenders made two goal-line clearance to fizzle the attack.
Amidst the heat and moist weather of Goa, the players got physically exhausted and towards the end of the match, the pace of the game went down categorically. One minute to the final whistle of the second half of the extra-time, Ronald Singh went on his own from the left flank, outpaced the Goan defender and unleashed a lethal ball to onrushing Manvir Singh, who was surprisingly left unmarked by the Goan defenders. On receiving the ball, the Punjab-born striker, curled the ball towards the far corner of the net to silent the 5,000-strong crowd who thronged the GMC Bambolim Stadium in Goa to see their team lifting their sixth Santosh Trophy in the history of 71 years.
Although Goa desperately tried to make a dramatic comeback in the last few seconds of the game, the vigilant West Bengal defenders saw the danger off quite convincingly to spoil the party for the home-crowd.
Mridul Banerjee and his lads went euphoric following his team, who brought the Santosh Trophy back to their state again since their win against Mizoram in 2010-11.
The individual awards are as follows:
Best Goalkeeper: Bruno Colaco (Goa)
Best Defender: Provat Lakra (Bengal)
Best Midfielder: Cajetan Fernandes (Goa)
Best Striker: Basant Singh (West Bengal)
(Report & Photo courtesy: AIFF Media)