Santosh Trophy: Late goals seal Kerala’s victory over West Bengal

Malappuram (Kerala) [India]: Two late goals from PN Noufal and TK Jesin gave Kerala their second consecutive victory in the 75th NFC for Santosh Trophy 2021-22. The hosts beat West Bengal 2-0 in Group A.

Unawed by the packed crowd that had descended on the Payyanad Stadium for the game, it was West Bengal who started off on the front foot, their quickness on the ball putting Kerala’s defence in constant trouble.
Kerala were then knocking on the door repeatedly and held almost two-thirds of the possession, but went into halftime with nothing to show for it, both teams locked in a goalless stalemate.

Right off the whistle in the second half, Kerala came out looking hungrier, the crowd’s noise bolstering them.

With the minutes ticking by, the crowd got more desperate, and on the touchline so did Bino George. With five minutes left, came the moment the stadium had been waiting for — via two substitutes Bino George had sent on, with the clear intention of injecting pace and guile.

TK Jesin, played Jijo Joseph clear with a sublime through ball in the box. Instead of shooting on goal, Joseph cut the ball back, and in the moment it looked like a decision gone wrong. But PN Noufal, had rushed in from the left side, reaching the pass just before Priyant’s outstretched gloves to tap it in and sent the crowd into delirium.

But the drama was not done. In the final moments, West Bengal, inert for most of the second half, conjured chances of their own. In injury time came their moment to break hearts, Supriya Pandit meeting Fardin Ali Molla’s sublime free kick with a cracking volley. The shot was from close range, and seemed destined for the bottom corner, but somehow Midhun palmed it out.

Kerala would not be denied. A minute later, off a counter, Muhammed Saheef played Jesin through cleanly on goal with just the goalkeeper to beat. The forward, who had barely put a step wrong since coming on, slotted it home. Two wins from two, the hosts had powered through, atop Group A on their own now. (ANI)


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