Kolkata, March 25: Defending champions Bengal and Kerala qualified for the semi-fils of the 72nd edition of the tiol championship for the Santosh Trophy by registering wins over Chandigarh and and Maharashtra respectively here on Sunday.
For Bengal, Bidyasagar Singh scored the only goal of the match in the 18th minute while Kerala had a field day with Rahul Raj (23rd), Jithin MS (39th) and Rahul KP (58th) getting on the scoresheet.
Both teams now have nine points from three games and will face each other to determine the top spot in Group A on Tuesday.
Bengal started the match as favourites against minnows Chandigarh. The 32-time champions had won their last two matches 3-1 and 5-1 against Manipur and Maharashtra respectively.
Chandigarh, on the other hand, had collected just one point from their first three matches and were already knocked out of the competition.
Bengal completely domited the proceedings right from kickoff and enjoyed the lion’s share of possession. Bidyasagar Singh and Tirthankar Sarkar remained the star performers for their side. While Bidyasagar built the pressure on the flanks, Tirthankar commanded the midfield and created the opportunities.
Bidyasagar scored the opening goal of the match in the 18th minute. The East Bengal youth product went past a defender as he cut into the middle from the right flank and took a shot at goal. The ball took a deflection off a Chandigarh defender and went inside the net.
Chandigarh did not have a single shot on goal until the half-hour mark. Vishal Sharma entered the box and attempted a shot at goal but the ball went wide.
The reigning champions received their first blow in the 36th minute when defender Monotosh Chakladar had to leave the field with a head injury. bi Hussein Khan replaced him.
Chandigarh custodian Salman Lateef almost gifted Bengal their second goal when he accidentally threw the ball into Rajon Barman’s feet but the striker hesitated in front of the goal and the ball was filly cleared.
Ranjan Chowdhury’s Bengal took a pragmatic approach in the second half. They were playing too many long balls which hampered their game.
In the 68th minute, Rajon Barman and Tanmoy Ghosh played a one-two before Rajon took a shot at goal but it was somehow saved by Salman.
Chandigarh squandered the best chance of the match in the dying moments. Vivek Ra’s header from a corner struck the crossbar and came back. Prateek Joshi attempted a volley from the rebound but it went above the crossbar.
Bengal play their fil match of the group stage on March 27 against Kerala. Chandigarh end their Santosh Trophy campaign with three defeats in four matches. IANS