In a gripping final, hosts Kerala made a comeback to get the better of West Bengal 5-4 in a penalty shootout to emerge champions of the 75th Santosh Trophy on Monday at the Manjeri Payyanad Stadium in Malappuram. The match ended goalless at the end of 90 minutes, and both sides scored one goal each in extra time to take it to the shootout.

This was Kerala’s seventh title, ending West Bengal’s hopes of adding to their record 32 crowns.

The two sides had also met in the first round and the final of the 2018 edition, with Kerala coming up with wins in both - the latter was also won on penalities.

Dilip Orawn had given the away side the lead in the first period of extra time before a late equaliser from substitute Bibin Ajayan took the game to penalties.

Bengal’s second penalty was squandered by substitute Sajal Bag while Kerala scored on each attempt to take the title home.

The first half was dominated by West Bengal. They not only managed to contain Kerala’s free-flowing attacking football but also managed to carve out quite a few decent openings. The first chance of the match came from Bengal’s first corner of the game. Swung in by Md Fardin Ali Molla, the ball fell to an unmarked Nabi Hussain Khan. His glancing header went just wide of the upright with Midhun V a mere spectator.

Bengal were pressing high and that led to quite a few interceptions in dangerous areas. A good early cross from Jay Baz down the right fell to Mahitosh Roy. He tried to go for a first-time volley but just could not get any purchase as it went behind for a goal-kick.

In the dying moments of the first half, Mahitosh created an opening for himself after a fine run down the left. He outmuscled his marker, made room for the shot but his effort from a narrow angle was well saved by Midhun. The Bengal player could have had a look up and spotted his teammates inside the box but opted to go for glory himself.

The hosts though did create two great chances to take the lead. The first one fell to Viknesh M who was put clean through on goal. With only Priyant Kumar Singh to beat, the forward’s effort went well wide. Priyant made a fine save from a Sanju G’s cross-cum-shot, tipping it over the bar as both teams entered the break level.

Kerala started the second half much stronger and dominated proceedings throughout. They created quite a few chances to break the deadlock. Their best chance came in the dying minutes of added time. A rare defensive blunder from Subhendu Mandi allowed Shighil the chance to win it right at the death. But Priyant made a fine save to take the game to extra-time.

In the first period of extra time, it was West Bengal who took the lead through Dilip Orawn. Supriya Pandit’s pinpoint accurate cross was met by a diving header from the winger which went beyond the reach of Midhun in the Kerala goal.

Since scoring, Bengal were content with defending deep. They did not try to attack or try and hold on to the ball. And that extra cautious move almost paid off but the hosts, willed on by a capacity crowd, did not give up and got their just rewards. Noufal PN’s brilliant cross was put in by substitute Bibin Ajayan.

At 1-1 at the end of 120 minutes of play, the penalties were called on to decide the winner.

A short while later, fans ran onto the field and fireworks were set off to mark Kerala’s first win on home soil since 1993.