A fine second-half brace from Md Fardin Ali Molla helped West Bengal ease past Rajasthan by a 3-0 margin in Group A game of the 75th National Football Championship for Santosh Trophy at the Kottappadi Football Stadium in Malappuram here on Sunday.
The win meant West Bengal joined Kerala in the last four. The scoreline could have been much more emphatic if not for the profligacy displayed by the Bengal players throughout the game. They created numerous chances in the first half but could not break the deadlock going into the break.
The second half saw a much-improved display from the Bengal players. Seconds after the restart, Bengal won a penalty. Dilip Orawn danced his way into the box and just as he was about to pull the trigger, he was tripped and the referee M Sugandar had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
Md Fardin Ali Molla stepped up and slotted home the resultant spot-kick. Goalkeeper Gajraj Singh guessed the right way but the young attacker’s shot had too much power. There was relief throughout the Bengal camp with coach Ranjan Bhattacharjee down on his knees to celebrate.
It did not take Bengal long to extend their lead. In the 59th minute, a fine cross from the right was met by Sujit Singh whose attempt was saved by substitute keeper Maninder Singh. But from the rebound, Md Fardin Ali Molla made no mistake and notched up his second successive brace of the tournament. He is now the second top-scorer of the tournament with four goals to his name.
Bengal were not done and in the 81st minute, they extended their lead even further. Sujit Singh had numerous chances to score 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. They will face the runners-up team of Group B in the semifinals of the Santosh Trophy.
(Inputs from ANI)