Kerala beat West Bengal on penalties to win the Santosh Trophy after a long wait as the boys from the Coconut country won the National Championship for the first time since 2004.
The final was held at Vivekananda Yuva Bharati Krirangan, aka Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata and their opponents were hosts West Bengal.
Kerala took an early lead through Jithin, as he was let through by Seesan and the young man finished it beautifully past the Bengal keeper. The Malayalis had more chances to extend their lead but they failed to convert their chances as it was a slender lead to Kerala at the break.
Bengal scored halfway in the second half to get parity and it was all squares after 90 minutes. In the second half of extra time, the Kerala side got their noses ahead again as Vibin scored with just a minute to play, but when it was looking that the game was dusted, Bengal’s Tirthankar Sarkar scored a superb free kick to level again and it ended 2-2 after a pulsating couple of hours of play.
But the visitors kept their nerve from the spots as they emerged victorious in the penalties 4-2 and won their 6th Santosh Trophy crown. Ankit Mukherjee and Nabi Hussain Khan missed the first two penalty kicks for Bengal as Midhun V thwarted both their attempts. Tirthankar Sarkar and Sanchayan Samadder’s conversion did not help as Kerala scored through Rahul V Raj, Jithin Gopalan and Jestin George. For the final kick, Jiten Murmu took on the gloves but Seesan S shot past him to deliver Kerala their first Santosh Trophy since 2004-05.
It ends their wait for some 13 years since their triumph against Punjab.
West Bengal: Majumder; Nabi, Chakladar, Mukherjee, Paul, Dasgupta; Bidyashagar SIngh, Samadder, Sumit Das, Sarkar; Jiten Murmu
Kerala: Midhun V; Rahul V Raj, Lijo, Sreerag, Vibin Thomas; Gopalan, Seesan, Jithin, Rahul KP; Anurag, Afdal VK