| Dipendu: Joint top scorer with seven goals
Imphal: Bengal, Manipur and Maharashtra entered the quarter finals of the LG Santosh Trophy on Tuesday, topping their respective clusters after the league round.
On Day VI of the competition, Bengal blanked Jammu and Kashmir 5-0 and Manipur walloped Pondicherry 9-0. Maharashtra managed to join them, shaking off Meghalaya 3-2. Pre-tournament favourites Bengal did not have to sweat much to demolish J&K at the Mapal Kangjeibung ground.
Bengal’s skipper for the day, Dipendu Biswas — who slammed four goals against Rajasthan in the opening match at the same venue — struck thrice against J&K.
Incidentally, Dipendu and Manipur’s Bijen Singh now top the list of goalscorers with seven goals each.
Captain Debjit Ghosh, who left for Delhi to attend the players’ status committee meeting, was replaced by Phalguni Datta. Surya Bikash Chakrabarty and Anupam Sarkar rounded off the tally.
Bengal’s onslaught began right from the kick-off. After missing three chances Dipendu drew first blood in the 4th minute through a superb header off Surya Bikash.
Stung J&K made desperate attempts to equalize, but Bengal forged ahead again in the 25th minute through a combination of Mehtab Hossain and Dipendu. Off a long clearance Dipendu was confronted by only one, but he dodged the challenge and coolly netted in to take Bengal into the lemon break on a 2-0 cushion.
In the second half, a complacent-looking Bengal missed several golden opportunities. Despite some excellent ’keeping by Sonu Kumar, he was replaced by the J&K coach, Hilal Rasool after Dipendu’s third goal.
Minnows J&K were not given any chance to make an attempt from close range, hence they made only long shots and individual efforts were seen plenty.
Bengal’s opponents in the quarter finals on October 25 will be decided after Wednesday’s Assam-Bihar clash. The Assam coach Ganesh Rai, however, is confident of a showdown with Bengal.
At the Eastern Sporting Union ground, a rampaging Manipur put up a repeat performance of their 8-0 thrashing of Himachal Pradesh, to join Bengal in the last four.
The hosts, egged on by the vociferous crowd, pushed Pondicherry out of the tournament with a hefty 9-0 margin.
Manipur forward L. Tiken slammed four goals while Bijen, the Dempo striker, netted in three. Kh. Sanaton and substitute I. Nilakumar scored a goal apiece. Pondicherry, who went down to Himachal Pradesh by a solitary goal fought spiritedly till the end.
Manipur’s opponents for Saturday’s quarter final will be decided after Wednesday’s match between Orissa and Nagaland.
For Maharastra Aziz Quereshi, Anthony Fernandes and Altafuddin Hameed scored a goal each. Maharastra opened theiraccount as late as the 51st minute through Aziz.
Meghalaya’s Sam Kharbhih and Freddy Kharpran reduced the margin with one goal each. The elimination round will conclude on Wednesday.