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National Games: Orissa retain womens football gold

Jamshedpur: Defending champions Orissa retained the title after edging past last year`s runners-up Manpiur 2-1 in the women`s football final of the National Games at JRD Tata Sports Complex on Saturday.

The bronze medal went to West Bengal, who outclassed Tamil Nadu through a solitary first half goal.

Orissa, studded with some international players, were aggressive right from the start and surged ahead in the 32nd minute through striker Pinky Bomal Magar who found the net off a cross from Sasmita Malik Assit.

Malik dodged past rival defenders and sent a measured crosspiece from left and Pinky fired a powerful right footer into the net, giving no chance to Manipur custodian L Ronibala Chanu.

Manipur players, who were eager to avenge last edition`s defeat in Guwahati, regrouped after they trailed 1-0 and intensified the attack.

They came close hitting the target couple of minutes later but the Orissa goalkeeper Swarnamayee Samal brilliantly punched a mid-field free kick off L Asharani Devi.

The northeastern girls continued to mount pressure on Orissa camp and were awarded a croner after Samal punched out a powerful shot.

Samal again dodged Manipur players and punched out an accurate corner kick from left flank in the first half, which Orissa led 1-0.

Orissa`s forward Jabamani Soren doubled the lead in the 67th minute though Asharani Devi reduced the margin for through a penalty, minutes later.

The win fetched Orissa a gold while Manipur had to content with a silver medal.

Earlier, West Bengal claimed bronze medal after defeating Tamil Nadu 1-0 in the play-off.

Striker Silpi Deb put West Bengal into the lead in the 24th minute, when she dribbled past the rival defence to convert Sujata Kar`s assist.

Trailing by a goal at the break, Tamil Nadu, in their quest for the equaliser, went on the offensive in the second half, but West Bengal`s strong defence stood its ground.

Tamil Nadu, who made the semifinal by virtue of having a better goal difference after defending champions Orissa thrashed Jharkhand 8-0 on Thursday, had a golden opportunity in the dying moment when striker R Suganya dribbled past the lone rival defender but her shot was way off the mark.

After the match, the Tamil Nadu team lodged a protest, accusing referee Tapan Ghosh of making wrong decisions, which they felt, prevented them from scoring.

Tamil Nadu Captain J Mahalakshmi was red carded after the match for misbehaving with the referee, while coach R Inbamani felt that Deb`s goal should have been called off-side.

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