Defending champions Mohun Bagan outplayed Mahindra United 2-0 in their last Group B match to book a berth in the semi-finals of the Federation Cup football tournament in Guwahati on Saturday.
The 13-time champion Kolkata side came up with a vastly improved performance after their lacklustre goal-less draw against Chirag United in their last game, to blank their opponents from Mumbai and top their group with seven points from two wins and a draw.
Talismanic Jose Ramirez Barretto scored from the spot in the 42nd minute before his Nigerian strike partner Chidi Edeh doubled the lead in the 49th minute.
The match at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium was evenly contested in the first 20 minutes but after that Mohun Bagan, who needed a win to qualify for the semi-finals, took control of the game.
As early as the fifth minute, Mahindra got a chance but Sushil Singh's shot from the top of box after being fed by his strike partner Muritala Ali went wide.
Another five minutes later, Mahindra's India player N P Pradeep tested Mohun Bagan goalkeeper Sangram Mukherjee with a curling free kick from 30 yards. Sangram somehow could lay his hands on the ball.
Barretto had a couple of shots in quick succession at Mahindra goal. First, he shot wide from a tight angle off a James Singh cross from the right in the 25th minute and then in the next minute his left-footer from inside the box off a pass from Ishfaq Ahmed was also off target.
In the 36th minute, Mahindra striker Sushil Singh got the space to take a shot from outside the Mohun Bagan box but it went straight to Sangram.
Three minutes from the breather, Mahindra defender Dharmarajan Ravanan brought Barreto down inside the box and referee Dinesh Nayar pointed to the dreaded spot. Barretto himself stepped up and fired past Subhashish's left to the net.
Four minutes after resumption, Chidi gave Mohun Bagan the two-goal cushion as the Nigerian striker poked the ball after a tussle inside the box.
In the second semi-final on December 31, Mohun Bagan will face the winner of Group A, which will be decided in Silchar.
Earlier, in an inconsequential Group B match, Chirag United beat Mohammedan Sporting by a solitary goal. Lalwampuia scored the all-important goal in the 31st minute.
Chirag, who had drawn Mohun Bagan goal-less in their last game, finished their engagements with four points while Mohammedan lost all their matches.
Churchill blank Sporting
Churchill Brothers struck twice late in the second session to blank Goan rivals Sporting Clube-de-Goa in their last Group C match and earn a semi-final berth in the Federation Cup football tournament.
The I-League champions scored through captain and star striker Odafe Onyeka Okolie (71st minute) and Khemtang Paite (89th) to top their group with nine points after winning all their matches.
They will now play the winner of Group D, which will be decided in Silchar on Sunday, in the first semi-final in Guwahati on December 30.
The first half was evenly contested with Sporting Clube, who needed to win the match by a two-goal margin to qualify for the semifinals, were slightly ahead in ball possession.
In the eighth minute, Ogba Kalu fed Odafe Okolie inside the Sporting Clube box but the Nigerian's feeble shot was wide of the mark.
Sporting Clube striker Elijah Junior's 17th minute shot from the edge of the box went straight into Churchill goalkeeper Lalit Thapa's gloves.
Two minutes later, Fulagano's left footer from inside the Churchill box was again punched away by Thapa.
In the 32nd minute again, a right footer from Bisheshwor Singh missed the Churchill goal by inches.
After resumption, Churchill played a defensive game mainly relying on counter attacks with Odafe the only player upfront. But, the Nigerian star striker rarely lets his side down and he drew the first blood with a curling right-footer from inside the Sporting Clube box, which gave goalkeeper Luis Barretto no chance.
Paite killed all of Sporting Clube hopes by scoring in the last minute of the regulation time by connecting a Dan Ito corner into the net.
Earlier, in another Group C match, Mumbai Football Club beat HAL Bengaluru 4-2 with Abhishek Yadav (19th, 77th and 79th minutes) scoring a hat-trick.
Evans Quao scored the fourth goal for the Mumbai side in the 81st minute via a penalty kick. For HAL, J Muralidharan (24th and 89th) scored both the goals, the second from the spot.