Five times champions Kerala rout Chandigarh 5-1 in their opening Group A game of the Santosh Trophy 2018 at the Rabindra Sarobar Stadium in Kolkata on Monday (March 19, 2018).
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.
It was an end to end affair at the beginning with both teams starting in a 4-4-2 formation. As the game progressed Kerala slowly took control of the game and started dominating proceedings. The South Indian outfit broke the deadlock in the 11th minute of the match when Seesan S forwarded a through ball for right winger Jithin M.S. The U-21 player received the ball at the edge of the box and found the back of the net comfortably. Kerala doubled their lead in 18th minute. Sajith Poulose finding the back of the net from Jithinas low cross from the right flank.
Chandigarhas morale was completely down after conceding the second goal while Kerala, on the other hand, increased the pace of the game and were looking hungry for goals. Kerala utilised their wings brilliantly with Jithin M.S leading the sideas attack force. They exploited the vulnerability in Chandigarh defence and opened goal mouth on several occasion in the first half. 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 teamas third goal from Jithinas assist.
Kerala maintained the pressure and piled on Chandigarhas misery as they increased their tally to four goals with Jithin M.Sa scoring the second goal of the match. Coach Satheevan Nil Balan made two changes in the 65th minute. Sreekuttan VS replaced Jithin M.S in the flanks and striker Anurag P.C replaced Afdal V.K. Chandigarh too made a change. Coach Sandeep Singh brought defender Gagan Kalyan in place of Deepak Kumar.
Kerala hammered the final nail in Chandigarhas 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.
Chandigarh next meets Manipur on 21st match and Kerala faceAthe same opponent on March 23rd.