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Bengal upset Mizoram to reach Santosh Trophy Final

Written by: Ravish R Narvekar

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The match was decided in a penalty shootout after both the teams failed to score in 120 minutes of regular and extra-time...

Bengal shotstopper Sankar Roy made two saves from the spot and sent his side into the Santosh Trophy Final. The Eastern state secured a 6-5 win over Mizoram in the first semi-final match played at GMC Stadium Bambolim earlier today.

The match was decided in a penalty shootout after both the teams failed to score in the 120 minutes of open play. 

High-flying Bengal were unbeaten in the group stage, while they were also the only team not to concede any goals in the tournament. Mizoram had qualified from Group B as runners-up. The northeastern team had experienced mixed form as after winning the opening match against Maharashtra and playing out a goalless draw with Punjab in the second, they had to suffer a humiliating 4-1 defeat against Kerala. The only good news for them was a thumping 5-1 win over Railways in their last group match.

Bengal coach Mridul Nanerjee made two changes to his side bringing in SK. Faiaz and Santu Singh in place of Suman Hazra and Monotosh Chakladar. While Mizoram coach Lalsangzuala Hmar named an unchanged starting XI from the last match.

The first 20 minutes of the match were restricted to midfield play as both the teams played possession football. In between these, Mizoram came close to scoring when F. Lalrinpuia sent a perfect delivery in the box from a corner but V. Lalchhuanawma Vanchhawng failed to connect from close. A minute later, Bengal’s Manvir Singh covered some ground after getting hold of the ball on the halfway line, but his shot was nicely blocked by Mizo defender Lalrincchana Tochhawng. They came up with one more chance when Mumtaz Akhtar's 40-yard free-kick was entering the goal but Mizo keeper, F. Lalmuanawma Muanawma made a last minute save to deny Bengal from taking the lead.

The northeastern came up with two back-to-back attacks but on both the occasions Bengal shotstopper Sankar Roy came up with excellent saves. First, he dived to block Lalbiakhlua's shot from point blank range. Later, he stood tall to deny Lalrammawia Rammawia’s curling free-kick.

Like in the first half, both the teams failed to capitalise on their chances in the second session also. However, Mizoram were the better side in the second half as they produced numerous chances but failed to break Bengal’s strong defence. Bengal also had once chance to take the lead when Manvir intercepted a back pass from Mizo defender Laldinlana R. The striker easily cut past two defenders and entered the box but his sparkling shot was pushed away by keeper Muanawma.

With both sides failing to score in regular time, the match was extended to extra-time. However, extra-time also failed to produce any goals and the match was decided in a penalty shootout, where Bengal keeper Ray denied Mizo keeper Muanawma and later made a diving effort to stop Lalbiakhlua and sent his side into the Final.

Bengal coach Banerjee had tears in his eyes after his side made it to the showpiece and said, “My boys really tried hard from the first match and they deserve to be in the Final. They really played good football.”

 

Published: Thu Mar 23, 2017 08:18 PM IST

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