Karnataka were on Saturday crowned champions of the Santosh Trophy after a gap of 54 years with Robin Yadav’s stunning first-half free-kick being the highlight of their dominating 3-2 win over Meghalaya in the summit clash here.
M Sunil Kumar (third minute), Bekey Oram (20th) and Robin Yadav (44th) scored for Karanatka while Meghalaya found the target through Brolington Warlarpih (eighth) and Sheen Sohktung (60th) at the King Fahd International Stadium.
This was Karnataka’s first title after 1968-69 and fifth overall, counting their four earlier triumphs as Mysore, their previous name before 1973. They had last finished runners-up in 1975-76. For Meghalaya, it was their maiden entry in the final.
The final was basically between two leagues at the two state capitals. Almost all the Karnataka players were from Banglore Super Division League while a majority of the Meghalaya players were plying their trade at Shillong Premier Ldeague. Meghalaya also had four players playing in the Banglore Super Division League.
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The two sides played with similar style, keeping the ball and building up with short and ground passes. But the attackers of Karnataka, who had made it to the final after beating Services in the semifinals, were able to breach the Meghalaya defence several times.
Meghalaya, who were victorious against Punjab in the semifinals, also did a lot of attacking but they lost the ball in the final third a lot of time.
Karnataka took the lead in the third minute which began from a throw in. Captain Karthik Swamy headed down inside the box and M Sunil Kumar’s right footer deflected from a Meghalaya defender to go into the net.
Five minutes later, Meghalaya forward Sheen Sohktung was tripped inside the box by Karnataka defender G Nikhil in the eighth minute. Brolington Warlarpih stepped up to take the penalty kick and sent Karnataka goalkeeper Satyajit Bordoloi the wrong way to make it 1-1.
Megahalya were in the ascendency for a while after the equaliser and they had some beautiful build-ups to threaten the Karnatalka citadel.
In the 10th minute, Meghalaya’s Figo Syndai had a chance off a pass from Sheen Sohktung but he shot over.
Karnataka were again in the lead in the 20th minute with Bekey Oram’s shot hitting the underneath of the bat before going in off a cross from the left.
Karnataka doubled the lead in the 44th minute with Robin Yadav scoring from a free kick. The former India Under-19 player, who is currently playing for Bengaluru FC reserve team, curled the ball into the top corner of the net and to the left of Meghalaya goalkeeper Rajat Paul Lyngdoh.
Megahlaya pulled one back in the 60th minute through Sheen Sohktung whose right footer beat the goalkeeper after Donlad Diengdoh had run a dummy off a cross from Banskhemlang Mawlong from the right.
Earlier, Services beat Punjab 2-0 to take the third spot.