Amidst the high-profile test series between India and Australia, many have forgotten about the final of the 71st Santosh Trophy that was played on Sunday, 27th March, at the GMC Bambolim Stadium in Goa. The final saw the traditional rivals of Indian football, the powerhouses, West Bengal and Goa go up against each other and resulted in the victory of the former, for whom it was the 32nd title.
Witnessed by a crowd of 5,000, the final was fiercely battled and remained undecided until the 119th minute, when Manvir Singh’s left-footer sealed the deal for the team from the eastern state. It was the sixth time when Goa was beaten by West Bengal in a Santosh Trophy Final.
Both Goa and Bengal played an attacking brand of football, which kept the defenders of the either side on their toes throughout the 120 minutes. Bengal Striker, Basant Singh, who was awarded the best striker award at the end of the match, embarked on multiple advances on the Goan goal along with fellow teammate Ronald Singh. The Goans were also not far behind in terms of attempts as Nicolau and Liston Colaco managed to keep the Bengal wing-backs busy till the whistle was blown for half-time. Basant did manage to find the net in the dying minutes of the first half, but it was declared offside by the officials.
Bengal came close to scoring in the second half, but the Goan goalkeeper Bruno Colaco, who won the best goalkeeper award at the post-match presentation ceremony, stood tall between the sticks. Mridul Banerjee introduced Manvir Singh towards the end of the second half in search of the winning goal, which the latter would eventually score in the dying minutes of the extra time.
With this win, West Bengal further improved their record in the history of this 71-year-old trophy, which they last won in the 2010-11 season, when they defeated Mizoram.