Kolkata: Defending champions Bengal succumbed to their first defeat, going down 0-1 to Kerala in the ongoing 72nd Santosh Trophy at the Mohun Bagan ground here on Tuesday.
Despite the defeat Bengal had already qualified for the semi-finals with nine points after four games, while Kerala topped group A having won all of their four matches.
With both the teams having already made it to the penultimate stage of the competition prior to the match, the only thing important for this encounter was, who among the two will top the group and former Indian Arrows player Rahul Kannoly ensured Kerala did so with a well taken goal in the final minute of play.
Rahul scored in the 90th minute from Jithin MS cross, who on the day created havoc in the right wing.
But it was Bengal who dominated proceedings initially and enjoyed better possession. The hosts could have well gone ahead in the sixth minute but Sandip Bhattacharjee’s attempted volley went just inches above the bar.
It was one of the many chances they squandered and the under-21 duo of Rahul and Jithin ensured Kerala made full advantage of those missed chances.
Maharashtra defeat Manipur
In the other inconsequential match of the day at the Howrah Sailen Manna Stadium, Maharashtra hammered seven past Manipur, who scored two consolation goals, in their final group B encounter.
Ranjit Singh scored a hat-trick, scoring in the 59th, 77th and 90th minutes, while Sahil Bhokare (28th), Nikhil Prabhu (75th), Kiran Pandhare (86th) and Naiqur Ansari (90+3rd) scored the other goals. Chanso Horam (17th) and Dhananjay Singh (40th) netted for Manipur.