East Bengal in semi-final of Federation Cup
Barasat, Dec 15 (IANS) East Bengal maintained an all-win record to move into the semi-final of the 30th Federation Cup Football with a 1-0 triumph over Sporting Clube de Goa in a group C outing played under lights here Monday.
After missing chances, East Bengal got the goal 11 minutes from close, courtesy the young Sanju Pradhan before a sizeable crowd at the Vidyasagar Stadium, where the beginning of the second session was delayed following a power failure.
The goal also ended JCT Mills Phagwara's hopes of making it to the last four from the group after they rode on a Jaspal Singh penalty conversion to pip New Delhi Heroes 1-0 in the day's opening fixture.
With only one team making the pre-summit round from the group, JCT's hopes of making the cut hinged on East Bengal losing to their Goan rivals and that too with a two-goal margin - in the group's concluding match.
East Bengal, who finished with nine points, will now take on the group D champions in the Dec 18 semi-final.
In group D matches Tuesday, Mohun Bagan will take on Air India while Oil India clash with Vasco Sports Club.
Syed Rahim Nabi initiated East Bengal's successful goal-scoring move with a measured square pass from the left. Sunil Chettri, closely marked by a defender, took the attack forward by releasing an unmarkmed Sanju who shot home from the right side of the penalty box to trigger celebration in the galleries.
Earlier, Sporting got the first look at the East Bengal goal in the very fourth minute, when Freddy Mascarenhas missed from close.
Sporting caused panic in the East Bengal defence again a little later. Steven Fernandes unleashed a sudden long ranger from the right, a la Vasco's Agnelo Colaco Sunday, but East Bengal goalkeeper Abhra Mandal rose up to the challenge to fist the ball over.
But as time wore on, East Bengal seized the initiative, and in the 47th minute Syed Rahim Nabi dodged past a couple of opponent defenders, but then missed the target.
Sporting also got a couple of chances, and East Bengal had a fortuitous save in the 54th minute when Steven Fernandes' low shot from just outside the box hit the post.
At the other end, Yakubu muffed up another golden opportunity in the 65th minute as he shot out with the goalkeeper at his mercy.
In the day's first match, the all-important goal came quarter of an hour into the first half. New Delhi Hero's Barister Ryambat, trying to cut out a pass to Jaspal Singh, dived and surprisingly fisted the ball inside his own box, resulting in a penalty. Jaspal coolly pushed in the set-piece.
JCT finished their campaign with six points, while New Delhi Heroes got three less. Sporting Clube de Goa failed to open their account.
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