East Bengal became the first Indian team to qualify for the AFC Cup knock-out round with an unbeaten record after thrashing Vietnam outfit Sai Gon Xuan Thanh 4-1 in their concluding Group H league match at the Vivekananda Yubabharati Krirangan in Kolkata on Tuesday.
The Federation Cup champions finished with 14 points to top Group H and earned the right to host the pre-quarter-final, which will be against the Group F runners-up.
The Vietnamese Cup winners, who needed a draw to qualify, were thus eliminated as Malaysia's Selangor advanced to the last 16 after a 3-2 win over Tampines Rovers.
Playing with a youthful side in absence of striker Nguyen Rogerio (suspension) and several regulars down with injury, the Vietnamese struggled to come to terms after conceding a penalty early into the match.
Edeh Chidi (8th minute) converted from the spot, while Andrew Barisic doubled the lead at the stroke of half-time after which there was no looking back for East Bengal.
After the change of ends, Penn Orji struck back-to-back goals, in the 53rd and 59th minutes, to give the Kolkata giants commanding 4-0 lead.
Two minutes later, Sai Gon Xuan Thanh pulled one back through Christian Jose Nsi Amougou but it was too late as the resolute East Bengal defence held on to their lead to continue their spectacular run in the AFC Cup.
This is the second time the red and gold brigade qualified for the AFC Cup knock-out after their run in 2004.
Dempo (2008 and 2009), Mahindra United (2007) and Churchill Brothers (2010) had qualified previously.