Kerala maintained their dominating form in the ongoing 72nd Santosh Trophy as the Southern outfit thrashed Manipur 6-0 in a Group A fixture played at the Sailen Manna Sports Complex in Howrah on Friday (March 23, 2018)
After a barren first half substitute Afdal VK gave Kerala the lead in the 47th minute before goals from Rahul KP (59th), Jithin Gopalan (62nd and 84th), Jithin MS (71st) and an own goal by Roshan Singh (90+4th) sealed full points.
It was Kerala who began the game aggressively and pushed forward from the very beginning. Sajith Paulose was the first to go close when his effort from the top of the box whizzed over the bar in the 13th minute. Eight minutes later it was winger Seesan S. who almost broke the deadlock but his looping header off Rahul’s cross came off the crossbar.
Kerala kept on pushing forward and had two more close chances, but the strike pair of Sajith and Anurag were both denied by the Manipur custodian as the first half ended goallessly.
Kerala began the second half on a similar footing to the first, and just 2 minutes into the half they took the lead through Afdal, who slotted from inside the box after receiving a pass from Jithin Gopalan.
Having scored, Kerala increased their pressure up front and doubled the lead in the 59th minute as Rahul scored a brilliant right-footer after being set up by Afdal. Kerala virtually finished off the game in the 62nd when Jithin Gopalan scored from Rahul’s pass.
The scoring spree did not end there as Jithin MS increased the lead further after striking home from a close range in the 71st minute. Meanwhile, Manipur had a couple of good opportunities to reduce the margin but the visitors were unlucky and Kerala looked solid at the back.
Kerala didn’t take their foot off the accelerator and continued to dominate proceedings and added their fifth through Jithin Gopalan in the 84th minute. To add on to their misery Manipur gifted Kerala an own goal in additional time when defender Roshan Singh put the ball into his own net while trying to clear Jithin MS’ shot, thereby completing the scoreline.
Kerala will now take on Maharashtra on March 25 at the Howrah Stadium while Manipur will face the same opponents on March 27.