West Bengal grabbed its chances to blank Manipur 3-0 and entered the final of the Santosh Trophy National football championship at the Payyanad stadium here on Friday.
Sujith Singh (3), Fardin Ali Molla (7) and Dilip Orawan (73) scored for Bengal, which will meet host Kerala in the final. West Bengal struck twice in space of four minutes in the first half to take the wind out of Manipur's sails.
Sujith opened scoring in the third minute with a speculative 25-yard shot which bounced awkwardly in front of diving Manipur goalkeeper Chingkhei Meitei and went in. Meitei's poor anticipation paved the way for the second Bengal goal in the seventh minute. The goalkeeper came out of his guard when a long ball was played into the Manipur penalty box. But the goalkeeper failed to gather the ball which came to Fardin Ali Molla who controlled it and shimmied past two defenders to stab home from top of the box.
Manipur substituted Meitei with Abujar in the 22nd minute and it regrouped in the middle. The Bengal goal withstood a late surge from Manipur in the first half. Goalkeeper Priyant Kumar was again his team's saviour as he blocked a sharp chance from Sudhir Laitonjam in the 32nd minute.
Manipur threatened again but Bengal's defence held out to preserve its lead. Manipur fired on all cylinders in the second half but the Bengal defence held firm and allowed only a few balls to reach goalkeeper Priyant.
However, a fast counterattack by Manipur in the 65th minute split the defence but striker Somishan Shirak wasted his team's best chance as he only managed a feeble shot which was saved by Priyant.
A fortuitous goal by Dilip in the 73rd minute killed the contest. Seeing goalkeeper Abujar straying out of his line, Dilip hoisted a long ball towards the Manipur goal from the right flank. The ball's trajectory beat Abujar's desperate attempt to tip it over and it went in from near the post.
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