West Bengal narrowly beat Punjab in Santosh Trophy OpenerApril 17, 2022
West Bengal kicked off their campaign in the Santosh Trophy with a narrow 1-0 victory over Punjab in the opening game of the national football championships on Saturday. The tournament’s two most successful teams showed attacking intent right from the start, seeking to grab all three points from the Group A match.
The chances flowed at both ends fairly quickly. In the eighth minute, West Bengal goalkeeper Priyant Kumar Singh made a fine save off a Jashandeep Singh free kick. The rebound was too quick for Amarpreet Singh to capitalize as the ball rolled wide.
Punjab had not conceded a single goal through their qualifying campaign, but against West Bengal, they faced their stiffest test, conceding possession often in the first half, and goalkeeper Harpreet Singh was called into action several times.
In the 20th minute, Harpreet made his first real save of the game, parrying Basu Deb Mandi’s long range swerving shot to safety. And yet, it was Punjab who could have gone into the break with the lead.
A long ball from the deep was misjudged by Bengal captain Monotosh Chakladar, and the ball fell to Tarun Slathia a few yards outside the box. Slathia collected neatly and charged in, with only goalkeeper Priyant to beat, but dragged his shot wide.
West Bengal took control of the proceedings more forcefully in the second half, holding possession for longer periods and stitching neater passes in midfield. They got their reward in the 61st minute, with the youngster Sajal Bag, drifting wide, beating his marker and crossing into the box.
His delivery found Shubham Bhowmick perfectly placed near the penalty spot and the forward’s first time volley hit the inside of the far post and bounced in, leaving Harpreet Singh helpless. West Bengal could have doubled their lead four minutes later. Midfielder Tanmoy Ghosh collected the ball 30 yards out and unleashed a superb shot only for a diving Harpreet to palm it on to the crossbar and to safety.
The save gave Punjab the impetus and thrust they had been lacking all game, and soon they started creating chances of their own. In the 75th minute, Rohit Sheikh’s chipped ball found Jaginder Singh just outside the box, facing the goal. The U-21 player collected the ball perfectly and then unleashed a curling shot, only to be denied by a diving Priyant in the West Bengal goal.