Cuttack: East Bengal became the second team to progress to the semi-finals from Group A after they played a goalless draw against I-League Champions Aizawl FC in the Hero Federation Cup, at Cuttack on Thursday.
With this draw, East Bengal finished runners-up with five points out of three matches and set up the potential Kolkata derby in the semi-finals, given Mohun Bagan finish table-toppers in Group B.
Meanwhile, Aizawl FC finished on top of Group A with seven points out of three matches.
Khalid Jamil made as many as 11 changes to the lineup that registered a 2-1 win against Churchill Brothers and complacency at the back was clearly visible of a young Aizawl FC side in the opening minutes.
Willis Plaza upfront and Wedson Anselme on the wings cause trouble at the back and in the 10th minute.
Plaza came close to giving East Bengal the lead after his header flew inches past of the Aizawl goal.
Five minutes later, Plaza combined with Wedson, only for the former to earn a corner kick after the Aizawl custodian made a fine save from close range.
Aizawl FC recouped in the match but could only test Subhashish from distance, failing to foster any clear goal scoring chance.
Plaza had a chance in the 37th minute when he was found in the box by a Narayan Das cross, but the Aizawl FC defence prevented him from releasing the shot. The half-time scoreline read 0-0.
In the 48th minute, Rafique wriggled into the box but his final delivery lacked the venom for Wedson to make a clean contact and the Aizawl FC defence line mopped up the attempt.
East Bengal attacked in hordes with ammunition provided from the midfield by Rafique and Cavin Lobo.
In the 54th minute, Lobo released an enticing cross but Plaza failed to connect to it.
Aizawl FC played with a deep line and their midfield dropped back to add numbers as Khalid Jamil's men focused on soaking the pressure out.
East Bengal failed to find the net even after having the majority of possession in the final third.
Updated Date: May 12, 2017 00:35 AM