Mohammed Fardin struck a second-half brace as heavyweights Bengal stormed into the Santosh Trophy semifinals with a clinical 3-0 win over Rajasthan here on Sunday. Needing a win to seal their last-four berth, the record 32-time champions struggled to finish a flurry of chances in the first-half.
But it all changed seconds after the restart as Bengal won a penalty with Fardin converting it to give them the lead. He then completed his double in the 59th minute. Sujit Singh struck a peach of a goal in the 80th minute to confirm Bengal’s semifinal berth, finishing second behind group A leaders and hosts Kerala.
Kerala topped the group with 10 points, while Bengal had nine points with three wins and one loss. It all started when Lakshya Garsha tripped Bengal’s centre-forward Dilip Orawn just when he was about to shoot inside the box.
Referee M Sugandar had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and Fardin calmly slotted it home, with a powerful strike beyond the reach of an outstretched Gajraj Singh. 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.