West Bengal beat Chandigarh 1-0 at the Mohun Bagan ground on Sunday to confirm their place in the semi-final of the ongoing 72nd Santosh Trophy.
Bidyasagar Singh scored the only goal of the match in the 18th minute to seal all three points for the Eastern state.
Bengal started the match as favourites against minnows Chandigarh. The defending 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.
The home side saw just one change in their starting XI. Star striker and captain Jiten Murmu was left out of the squad due to illness. Rajon Barman replaced him with Tirthankar Sarkar leading the side.
There were two changes in the Chandigarh XI. Pawandeep Singh and Manvir Singh made way for Prateek Joshi and Nitish Mehra.
Bengal completely dominated proceedings right from kickoff and enjoyed the lion’s share of possession with Bidyasagar Singh and Tirthankar Sarkar being 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 and lone goal of the match in the 18th minute. He 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, unfortunately, 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. Nabi Hussein Khan replaced him.
Chandigarh custodian Salman Lateef almost gifted West 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 finally cleared. Ranjan Chowdhury’s West 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 Rana’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.
West Bengal play their final match of the group stage on March 27 against Kerala while Chandigarh end their Santosh Trophy campaign with three defeats in four matches.