Santosh Trophy 2019-20: Emil Benny brace guides Kerala to 5-0 thrashing of Andhra

Courtesy Emil Benny's brace (53' & 56') and goals from Vibin Thomas (44'), Leon Augustine (45+2'- P) and N. Shihad (90+4'), Kerala crusied to victory.

Kerala's Emil Benny (11) shoots from close range in the Santosh Trophy match against Andhra Pradesh.   -  S. Ramesh Kurup

When Vibin Thomas headed in the first goal of the South Zone qualifying tournament of the Santosh Trophy, he had not just broken the deadlock in the opening fixture. He also ended an embarrassingly long drought for Kerala, which had failed to score in the 270 minutes it played in the last edition.

The host outplayed Andhra to register a comprehensive 5-0 win. It truly was a commanding performance from Bino George's boys, who were constantly on the attack right from the kick-off.

They forced a corner kick in the opening minute and followed it up with several chances. But a combination of poor finishing skills and a fine effort under the bar from the Andhra custodian K. Ajay Kumar meant Kerala's wait for a goal would end only in the dying minutes of the opening half, thanks to a well-floated corner kick from Leon Augustine.

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A few minutes later, the busy and rather creative Leon himself scored one from the penalty spot, after being brought down while in a threatening position. Kerala thus led 2-0 at half-time, much to the delight of a sizeable crowd.

The Kerala men continued to press on resumption, and the ball remained in the Andhra half for most of the time. They went 3-0 up eight minutes into the second half, with Emil Benny, who had come in for P.V. Vishnu before the interval, giving the finishing touch to an excellent pass from M.S. Jithin.

Ten minutes later, Emil scored for the second time when he showed superb skills to dupe the defenders and the goalkeeper. Lastly, four minutes into the injury time, N. Shihad headed beautifully home Kerala's fifth goal.

The result:

Kerala 5 (Vibin Thomas 44, Leon Augustine 45+2-p, Emil Benny 53 & 63, N. Shihad 90+4) bt Andhra 0.

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