Guwahati: Cardozo and Tudu scored as Bengal retain the Santosh Trophy with a 2-1 victory over Manipur in the summit clash to win their 31st title of the national championships here on Monday.

Strikers Branco Cardozo (21st minute) and Budhiram Tudu (48th) scored for Bengal while Manipur pulled one back through Nabachandra Singh in the 75th minute at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

Manipur were playing in only their second final after winning the title in 2002.

Both the teams started on an aggressive note. While Manipur went all out for an early goal, Bengal preferred to play sensibly and gained in confidence as they played the waiting game.

Branco put Bengal ahead in the 21st minute. He blasted a Francis Fernandes pass from the top of the box as Bengal went into the interval with a one-goal lead.

After changing ends, Bengal doubled the lead in the 48th minute. Midfielder Budhiram Tudu found the back of the net when he tapped in from close.

With no other option left, Manipur went all out. And it paid dividends when Nabachandra Singh reduced the margin in the 75th minute. Inspired by the goal, Manipur launched a
series of attacks to restore parity but it all came a bit too late.

Bangal now have won their second consecutive title after a lull of 11 years since emerging champions in 1999. In the last edition, Bengal had beaten Punjab 2-0 in the final to
regain the trophy.

(Agencies)