Delhi breezed to a 3-1 win against an erratic Arunachal Pradesh in their Cluster V group qualifying match at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata on Wednesday.
Though Arunachal Pradesh threatened to pose problems, a lack of co-ordination in their midfield quickly tilted the match towards Delhi. After initial jostling, Delhi settled down and channelled their attacks through the flanks.
Midfielder Bhuvan Joshi took a breathtaking shot from almost 30 yards that beat goalkeeper Tapi Apa's defence. Arunachal Pradesh could have equalised minutes later had Techi Takar's free-kick from the edge of the 18-yard box not changed trajectory to graze the far post.
Delhi were again saved when Bijender Bhardwaj pulled of a goalline save off a corner-kick. This was after Delhi custodian Vikrant Sharma spilled a regular save but Arunachal Pradesh had no one in the box to capitalise on his mistake.
Barring the few chances however, Delhi continued to peg back their opponents with a superior midfield, while the opponents were lacklustre in passing and conceded possession easily.
Delhi could have doubled the lead in the final minute of the first-half after Manu Choudhary set up striker Mohender Singh with a beautiful cross from the left. But the forward speared it above the horizontal.
Delhi then struck soon. Vikas Rawat timed his jump perfectly to head in a centre from the left to make it 2-0 in the 53rd minute.
Arunachal Pradesh pulled one back in the 71st minute when Bamin Tatung, jostling a defender, slotted the ball in with a low chip. Delhi were undeterred and extended the lead ten minutes later through an unmarked Tuishim Mashangva. He tapped the ball in after the keeper had committed himself to Singh who set up Mashangva with a square pass.