Kerala beats Punjab to make the semifinals

West Bengal weathers a valiant Meghalaya fightback; goalkeeper Priyant comes up with a crucial penalty save late in the second half

Updated - April 22, 2022 10:34 pm IST

Published - April 22, 2022 07:12 pm IST - Malappuram

The Kerala players celebrate their triumph.

The Kerala players celebrate their triumph. | Photo Credit: Sakeer Hussain

A profligate Kerala left it late but managed to squeeze out a 2-1 win over a stubborn Punjab to book a place in the semifinals of the Santosh Trophy National Football championship at the Payyanad Stadium here on Friday.

Captain Jijo Joseph’s brace broke Punjab’s indomitable spirit. The latter had taken the lead in the 11th minute through Manvir Singh. Jijo, who scored the equaliser in the 16th minute, scored the winning goal in the 86th minute.

Punjab goalkeeper Harpreet Singh kept his side in the contest with a lion hearted performance but he was let down by his defenders who failed to mark Jijo as he scored the winner. The dynamics of the contest changed after Kerala fell behind. The goal ignited the aggression inside Kerala which dominated the contest and pulled off a deserving win.

Earlier, an erratic West Bengal survived a valiant fight back from Meghalaya to register a 4-3 win and boost its semifinal chances.

Defensive errors allowed Meghalaya to claw back and equalise thrice in the contest. However, Bengal goalkeeper Priyant Kumar Singh made the decisive save from a penalty kick taken by Meghalya captain Hardy Cliff Nongbri in the 85th minute to ensure full points for his side. Priyant dived to his right to save the kick and then recovered in time to parry the rebound which was fired again by Hardy.

Needing a win, Bengal dominated from the start against a Meghalaya side which surprisingly lacked thrust.

Fardin Ali Molla gets the ball rolling with West Bengal’s opener.

Fardin Ali Molla gets the ball rolling with West Bengal’s opener. | Photo Credit: Twitter/@IndianFootball

In the 22nd minute, Fardin Ali Molla swept the ball into an open net from close after receiving a cross from Dilip Orawn to underline Bengal’s dominance.

Against the tide

However, Meghalaya struck against the tide in the 39th minute. Kynsarbr Lhuid played a long ball to Sangti Janai Shianglong who side steppedBengal defender Shubhanka Adhikari to equalise. Bengal regained the lead when Farden Ali Molla converted a penalty in the 42nd minute.

Sangti Shianglong levels the score for Meghalaya from inside the box.

Sangti Shianglong levels the score for Meghalaya from inside the box. | Photo Credit: Twitter/@IndianFootball

The second half started with high voltage action with both sides trading a goal apiece in the first minutes. Substitute Shano Tariang intercepted and stole the ball from a Bengal defender to fire in the equaliser in the 46th minute.

However Mahitosh Roy with a clinical finish restored the lead in the 49th minute. Shano struck again in the 65th minute as he headed in a cross from Kynsarbor Lhuid to level the scores. But Mahitosh Roy scored his second goal to put Bengal ahead. Meghalaya attacked and nearly forced the equaliser but Priyant Kumar saved the day for his side.

The results: Bengal 4 (Farid Ali Molla 22, 42, Mahitosh Roy 49, 69) bt Meghalaya 3 (Sangti Janai Shianglong 39, Shano Tariang 46, 65).

Kerala 2 (Jijo Joesph 16, 86) bt Punjab (Manvir Singh 11).

Today’s matches: Karnataka v Manipur (Malappuram) 4 p.m., Odisha v Gujarat (Manjeri) 8 p.m.

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