Maharashtra came from behind twice to thrash Manipur 7-2 in their final group phase match of the 72nd Santosh Trophy on Tuesday (March 27, 2018) at the Sailen Manna Stadium in Howrah.
The big win was powered by a hat-trick from Ranjeet Singh (59th, 77th and 90th minute) along with goals from Sahil Bhokare (28th), Nikhil Prabhu (75th), Kiran Pandhare (86th) and Naqiur Ansari (90+3rd). Meanwhile, Chanso Horam (17th) and Dhananjoy Singh (40th) were the scorers for Manipur.
The match was all about pride as it was a dead-rubber in Group A, with both sides having been eliminated after suffering crushing defeats to Bengal and Kerala earlier in the tournament.
Manipur were firmly in control right from the start as they created the first chance in the 7th minute through Jerry Pulamte but the striker could not keep his effort on target from Netrajit Singh’s pass.
Three minutes later, Maharashtra had a chance of their own as Kiran played an excellent ball to Siddhart Colaco beside him in space before the latter released Naqiur on the left, but the ball was overplayed.
Meanwhile, Manipur took the lead just past 15th minute mark when Chanso slotted past Aditya Mishra after receiving the ball from Ngangbam Naocha.
The goal stunned Maharashtra momentarily but they did not lose hope and continued to play attacking football. Maharashtra equalised in the 28th minute when Sahil scored with a brilliant volley.
However, Manipur regained their lead five minutes before the interval when Dhananjoy scored from the spot after Jerry was fouled inside the box by Subham Mane.
Manipur restarted the game quickly and positively sending numbers forward to force the Manipur backline open. The North Easterners maintained their lines for only 14 minutes before Ranjeet’s long-range shot found the net after taking a deflection.
After continuous pressure, Maharashtra finally managed to take the lead in the 75th minute. Advit Shinde dispossessed an opponent on the left and ran free before beating a defender and crossing the ball to substitute Nikhil inside the box on the right. The defender controlled and hammered home a low attempt at the first post to put his team ahead.
In the final quarter, there was a flurry of goals as Maharashtra managed to find the net four times.
First it was Ranjeet who finished off a brilliantly crafted move in the 77th minute before setting up Kiran in the 86th. Ranjeet then completed his hat-trick in the 90th minute from Mrunal Tandel’s pass. Naqiur then rounded off the goal scoring tally in additional time from Advit’s pass.
The result meant Maharashtra finished their campaign on thrid place in Group A with 6 points while Manipur took the wooden spoon after garnering just one point from four matches.
The 72nd Santosh Trophy will wrap up its first round with the final Group B matches on Wednesday, as Mizoram take on Karnataka and Punjab battle Goa.