Karthik Krishnaswamy

Tiruvallur: Manipur announced its Santosh Trophy credentials in the clearest possible manner here on Monday, trouncing Uttarakhand 9-0 in the opening encounter of Cluster VI.

Standing out statistically among the riches of Manipur’s performance was Churchill Brothers winger Reisangmi Vasum with three goals.

From the outset, Manipur played as if only half the pitch existed. So high did its back-line station itself, and so rarely did its players lose possession. The ever-retreating Uttarakhand defence was confronted with a constantly interchanging front four, with Vasum and Bijen Singh, nominally the right and left wingers, drifting in regularly to let the fullbacks overlap.

Long-ranger

Somehow, it took Manipur over half an hour to open its scoring. It came about when midfielder Bisheshwor Singh sacrificed intricacy for power and let loose from 25 yards out to send the ball screaming into the top corner.

A bout of pinball-style defending from Uttarakhand in the 45th minute ended with the ball looping to Bijen at the edge of the box, and an instant later bouncing off the underside of the crossbar and into the goal after a thunderous left-footed volley. Less than a minute later, Vasum thumped in the first of his three goals from a Bisheswor cross.

Cascade of goals

Deflated, the Uttarakhand defence crumbled in the second half, letting in five more goals. Vasum scored two of them, and set up Bisheshwor’s second with a pull-back after a dribble that took out three defenders.

Appropriately, Joychandra Singh, wearer the No. 9 jersey, scored the ninth and final goal, two minutes into injury time.

The results: Manipur 9 (Bisheshwor Singh 33, 73; Bijen Singh 45; Vasum 45+1, 63, 89; Subash Singh 59, 77; Joychandra Singh 92) bt Uttarakhand 0.

Tuesday’s match: Delhi vs. Assam.

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