Bengal overcame an indifferent start to blank Rajasthan 3-0 and enter the semifinals of the Santosh Trophy National Football Championship at the Kottappadi Football stadium here on Sunday.
Men from the state of West Bengal finished second in Group A, behind Kerala.
It met unexpected resistance from Rajasthan, which managed to keep a blank sheet in the first half. But Bengal came out blazing in the second half to break Rajasthan’s resilience and notch up its third win.
They resorted to playing down the flanks and utilised Jay Baz’s crossing prowess to create scoring opportunities. Bengal’s hero from their previous match Mahitosh Roy was guilty of missing two gilt-edged chances.
Fardin Ali Molla (46’, 60’) and Sujit Singh (80’) scored the goals.
Bangla earned numerous chances in the first half but its strikers misfired and squandered all of them.
Substitute Supriya Pandit, who was brought on after the break, made some superb raids from the right flank, one of which resulted in Bengal’s second goal with Fardin scoring from a rebound to notch up his fourth goal from as many matches.
Sujit had numerous chances and he finally got on the scoresheet after brilliantly placing the ball with his left foot, just outside the reach of a diving Maninder Singh.
Rajasthan had one final chance in the dying moments of added time to reduce the arrears but Imran Khan’s shot was saved by Bengal substitute goalie Raja Burman.
Rajasthan’s campaign in the tournament after a gap of 34 years thus came to a disappointing end.
The team scored from its first offensive move in the second half. The goal came through a penalty when Rajasthan defender Lakshya Dev Singh tripped Dilip Orawan inside the box. Fardin Ali Molla made no mistake from the spot-kick to put Bengal ahead in the 46th minute. Bengal increased the lead in the 60th minute when Fardin volleyed home a rebound after Rajasthan goalkeeper Gajraj Singh blocked the first shot taken by Sujit Singh.
However, Sujit Singh couldn’t be denied a deserving goal when he crashed a left-footed volley from top of the box into the far post to complete the tally in the 80th minute.