Delhi beat Uttar Pradesh 2-0 in their Cluster V qualifying match in Kolkata on Friday to brighten their chances of securing a place in the pre-quarter finals.
Both teams came into the match after registering wins in their opening encounters, but it was Delhi who looked better and more composed than their opponents. After a pale first half, Tuishim Mashngva broke the deadlock on the hour-mark and before Uttar Pradesh could recover, Bhuvan Joshi converted a penalty to make it 2-0 in the 78th minute.
In another Cluster V match, Javed Manihar scored a brace to guide Madhya Pradesh to a 3-1 win against Arunachal Pradesh. A point against Madhya Pradesh in the next match on Sunday will be enough for Delhi to see them through.
In Cluster VI, Sikkim’s pre-quarter final aspirations suffered a blow when a disciplined Chhattisgarh defeated them 1-0 in their qualifying match at Mohun Bagan ground.
Sikkim were hamstrung by the absence of experienced East Bengal midfielder Sanju Pradhan, who had to be admitted to hospital with viral fever late on Thursday. Defence mainstay Nirmal Chhetri, too, compounded Sikkim’s woes when he was given marching orders after a rash tackle just two minutes into the match.
Chhattisgarh were a more disciplined lot and made the most of the very few chances that came their way. They scored when striker Wasim Raja latched on to Subir Maji’s centre from the right flank that cut across a defender and he had no problem in lobbing it in.
This happened exactly two minutes after Sikkim wasted their best chance to go ahead. Striker Bijendra Rai was brought down in the 18-yard box, prompting referee Deepak Dey to point to the spot. Engphohang Subba stepped up to take the shot but Chhattisgarh custodian Partha Dey dived to his left to parry the shot.