Kolkata, March 19 (IANS) Bengal blanked Manipur 3-0 to begin their title defense in style while Kerala hammered Chandigarh 5-1 on the opening day of the national football championship for the 72nd Santosh Trophy here.
Sumit Das notched up a brace (6th, 15th) to give them a 2-0 lead at the break at the Howrah Stadium as Bengal dominated the proceedings from start to finish.
Das scored off a corner from the rebound to open his account, while he added a second in nine minutes heading home a Bidyasagar Singh’s cross.
Bidyasagar put the icing on the cake for Bengal with a 82nd minute goal in what was a poor clearance from the Manipur defense.
Meanwhile, in the other game of the day at the Rabindra Sarovar Stadium, five-time champions Kerala thrashed Chandigarh 5-1 in their opening Group A game
Jithin M.S scored two goals in the 11th and 51st minute and provided two assists to guide his team to glory.
The other three goals for Kerala were scored in the 18th, 49th and 77th minute respectively by Sajith Poulose, Afdal V.K and Sreekuttan V.S. Vishal Sharma was the lone scorer for Chandigarh in the 88th minute.
The Southern outfit broke the deadlock when Seesan S forwarded a through ball for right winger Jithin M.S. The U-21 player received the ball on the edge of the box and found the back of the net comfortably.
Kerala doubled their lead seven minutes later with Sajith Poulose finding the back of the net from Jithin’s low cross from the right flank.
The teams went into the break with the scoreboard flashing 2-0 in favour of Kerala.
Kerala started the second half with the same intensity with which they played in the first 45 minutes of the match.
Their positive approach yielded them their third goal of the game in the 49th minute. Striker Afdal VK netted his team’s third goal from Jithin’s assist.
Kerala maintained the pressure and piled on Chandigarh’s misery as they increased their tally to four goals with Jithin M.S’ scoring the second goal of the match.
Kerala hammered the final nail in Chandigarh’s coffin in the 77th minute when substitute Sreekuttan V.S scored.
His shot hit the far post and went in. Chandigarh pulled one back in the 88th minute thanks to a strike from Vishal Sharma. The striker scored the consolation goal to restore some pride in this one-sided clash.