Kerala humiliates Chandigarh in Santosh Trophy opening day!

Kerala vs Chandigarh

19th March,2018 : 72nd Santosh trophy main stage was off to a roaring  start, today,here, at Kolkata. While defending champion West Bengal took on a promising Manipur in Howrah Stadium, Rabindra Sarovar stadium saw “Santosh Giants” Kerala squaring off against Chandigarh in an all-group A match day.

Kerala dominated the proceedings from the word go and went on to clinch a big victory of 5-1 which will come handy in the latter half of the group matches as they are already pitted in the “group of death” along with other heavyweights like Maharashtra, Manipur and 32 time champion West Bengal.

Kerala, based on their characteristics short pass and wing play started with positive intent as soon as the whistle blew with the first chance arriving in the 4th minute itself! Afdal VK the Keralite forward laid off brilliantly for Jithin MS , the U-21 right winger whose lob just missed the woodwork by an inch as Manvir Singh the Chandigarh custodian rushed out of his territorry to narrow the angle.

But Jithin was not to be denied as Kerala drew the first blood through him with 11 minutes on the clock when he defeated the Chandigarh goalie after a brilliant through pass by Seesan S. Jithin returned the favour to Sajith Poulose, 7 minutes later when Kerala doubled the lead on their opponent.

Also Read – Santosh Trophy : West Bengal begins title defense in style!

It was simply a world-class stuff coming from a national championship as Sajith struck the goal by a powerful back flick after  a flat cross from Jithin through the right flank, while the Chandigarh defenders and the custodian gasped in awe along with the spectators.

Kerala showed no respite as they took the full opportunity of a fragile Chandigarh midfield which lacked creativity. Time and again attacks came flooding to the Chandigarh box while in the opposite box Chandigarh forwards were flooded by Kerala defenders. The strong Kerala backline was easily one of the few elements that separated the two sides.

Harminder Singh and Prateek Joshi were completely neutralised by Vibin Thomas and the Kerala skipper Rahul V Raj, as there were no altercation in the scoreline till the break time; largely due to non-conversion by Afdal; when he spurn on a solo run -skipping past even the goalie. But a tad too long stay of the ball at his feet meant Md. Qais Khan would eventually inflict the clearance of the day.

Afdal soon got his reward for hard work 4 minutes down the second half when he reaped the benefit ; after all the hard work done by Jithin MS; taking out the defenders and goalkeeper alike! Jithin provided a pitch-perfect minus as Afdal calmly put it across the net.

2 minutes later Jithin provided a moment of brilliance when he went past 2 defenders and shot across the target to make it 4-0 even before Chandigarh could shrug off the third goal from their mind.

A golden chance fell Chandigarh’s way in 54th minute when Harminder’s powerful strike hit the crossbar and seemed to drop very close to the goalline as they valiantly appealed for  goal which was not accorded by the referee nevertheless.

Kerala struck their 5th goal when the substitute Sreekuttan – who came on for the eventual man of the match Jithin MS; replicated the feat of his predecessor. It was a perfect cross; delivered by Rahul KP from the left flanks to switch over to the right one; as Sreekuttan came rushing to meet the ball with a strong header to send it across the inside of the left far post.

Chandigarh found a consolation goal in the 88th minute when a low freekick by Harminder was guided into the net by Vishal Sharma who inflicted a fancy touch to score the only goal for his side; which again was mauled over as a possible offside.

It was a satisfying victory for Kerala who will be aiming to add one more title to their staggering tally of Santosh Trophy as they will be facing Manipur on Friday while Chandigarh would have to start from the scratch as they will be having just a day’s rest before squaring off against Manipur on Wednesday.

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