FC Bengaluru United (FCBU) entered the knockout stage of the Durand Cup after beating Indian Air Force 4-2 in a thrilling Group A match at the Kalyani Stadium in Kalyani on Thursday. (More Football News)
Spaniard Pedro Manzi was again the architect of the victory, scoring two goals and setting up as many for Yumnam Gopi Singh to send the Airmen crashing out of the tournament.
FCBU, who had beaten CRPF 1-0 in their first match, have six points, more than enough to make it to the quarterfinals.
The Airmen had an early chance to go ahead in the very first minute of the game when Vivek found himself behind the FCBU defence and in the clear, but he could not utilise the opportunity.
Manzi scored his first from the spot in the 21st minute, when Air Force defender Davinder was ruled to have handled the ball inside the box.
FCBU then doubled their advantage seven minutes later as Manzi now turned provider, finding Gopi Singh with a fine ball to catch the Air Force defence napping. Gopi took one touch to go away from an onrushing Subhajit Basu to calmly slot the ball home.
Vivek got one back for the Airmen three minutes before the breather as he latched on to a cross from the hard working Prabhjot, took a touch in the six-yard box and sent the ball past Kunzang Bhutia in the FCBU goal.
That goal must have inspired the Airmen no end as they were a transformed team in the second-half, dominating proceedings for a good half an hour. Vivek got his second of the game from a corner by Shahbaaz as he leapt above the FCBU defence to head past Bhutia and equalise.
Vivek missed his hat-trick several times, including from the one just a minute after his second goal.
FCBU finally broke the deadlock in the 72nd minute as the same Manzi-Gopi combination struck again. Manzi then got his second of the game in injury time to ensure FCBU had no late jitters.
In another match of the day at the Vivekananda Yubabharati Krirangan (VYBK) in Kolkata, Army Red defeated Assam Rifles 4-1.
Liton Shil (39th minute), Bikash Thapa (66th), Sushil Shah (75th) and captain Nongmeikapam Suresh (82nd) scored for Army Red in the first Group D game while Samujal Rabha (41st) got the solitary goal for Assam Rifles.