Federation Cup: Chennai City FC registers first win

Despite the win, Chennai City FC bows out of the Hero Federation Cup along with Churchill Brothers, while both Aizawl FC and Kingfisher East Bengal qualify for the semifinal of the Tournament.

Chennai City FC finished third in Group A.   -  Biswaranjan Rout

Aizawl FC custodian Lalawmpuia stood like a wall as the I-League champion held East Bengal to a goalless draw in its last Group A engagement of the Federation Cup football tournament at the Barabati Stadium here on Thursday.

Aizawl topped the group with seven points followed by East Bengal with five. Both teams qualified for the semifinals. Chennai City FC stunned Churchill Brothers 3-1 to give East Bengal a smooth passage to the last four.

The East Bengal-Aizawl contest was an interesting fare. East Bengal, which played without three of its main players – defenders Ivan Bukenya and Gurwinder Singh and midfielder Mehtab Hossain – showed aggression.

Aizawl, which tested its reserves by fielding a different XI without any foreigner, relied heavily on its solid defence and odd counter-attacks.

East Bengal stepped on the accelerator from the word go but could not make the most of at least three chances in the first half. Willis Plaza failed to connect to a Bikash Jairu cross from left in the 10th minute, Wedson Anselme saw his attempt being blocked by Lalawmpuia in the 17th and Jairu could not utilise Samad Ali Mallick's pass in the 37th.

East Bengal breathlessly raided the opponent citadel but had frustration in store due to its poor finishing and Aizawl's marvellous defending. Plaza missed a sitter off a Jairu cross in the 69th minute after the latter dashed up on the left flank. In the closing minutes, Plaza and Robin Singh could not beat Lalawmpuia at goalmouth.

Chennai, which had ended eighth in the I-League, finished its first season on a high by recording a morale-boosting win over Churchill in its last group outing. Dhanpal Ganesh scored from a solo on the right in the 18th minute, Edwin Vanspaul saw off three markers to shoot home and Charles de Souza netted a rebound for Chennai.

Brandon Fernandes scored a consolation goal.

The results:

Group A: Chennai City FC 3 (Dhanpal Ganesh 18, Edwin Vanspaul 61, Charles de Souza 79) bt Churchill Brothers 1 (Brandon Fernandes 81); Aizawl FC 0 drew with East Bengal 0.

Friday's fixtures:

Group B: DSK Shivajians vs Shillong Lajong FC (4 p.m.); Mohun Bagan vs Bengaluru FC (7 p.m.).

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