GOA: Goalkeeper Sankar Roy emerged the hero for Bengal as he saved two penalties against Mizoram and ensured his team’s passage in the final of 71st National Football Championship for 2017 Santosh Trophy on Thursday.
The first semi-final of the competition at GMC Stadium in Bambolim saw both sides level at 0-0 till the end of 120 minutes and the match eventually went to penalties and Bengal won 6-5 via sudden death. Both teams missed a spot-kick each in the regulation shootout but the decisive error was made by Lalbiakhlua as his effort was palmed away by Sankar.
The first half was a evenly matched contest with the teams were watchful not to press too many men forward and as a result there were not many chances to pounce upon.
However, as the game progressed Bengal gradually gained control and created game’s first scoring opportunity when Manvir Singh controlled a ball outside the box only to fire his volley wide in the 19th minute.
Mizoram, on the other hand, did show some excellent moves in patches but find it difficult to penetrate into the rival box.
After pushing up for a long time, Bengal created the best chance of the first half in the 29th minute. Basanta Singh cut in from the right and with an intelligent ball sent Ronald Singh clear on the left. Ronald controlled the ball and tried to volley over the keeper but he was denied by a brilliant save from the rival custodian Lalmuanawma.
Thereafter, both sides battled hard in the midfield, but with the game turning physical there weren’t many chances as both sides went into the breather tied at goalless.
The second half was played at much higher intensity than the first and both sides had some close chances with Bengal going extremely close twice in the opening fifteen minutes but was denied by poor finishing.
Bengal had their chances through Sheikh Faiaz and Manvir, while Mizoram went close through Lalrinpuia and Lalrinchhana but neither could break the deadlock as the game progressed to the thirty minutes of extra time.
The teams failed to break the deadlock even in extra time forcing the contest to be decided on penalties where Bengal proved to be better shooters and prevailed 6-5.