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 October 22, 2002 | 1830 IST

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Bengal, Maharashtra, Manipur
in last eight

Strong contenders Bengal, formidable Maharashtra and hosts Manipur sailed into the quarter-finals, prevailing over their opponents in contrasting styles, in the 58th National Football Championship, for the Santosh Trophy, in Imphal on Tuesday.

Bengal trounced Jammu and Kashmir 5-0 to top cluster one, while Maharashtra survived some anxious moments before pipping Meghalaya 3-2 in cluster two, at the polo club ground.

In the other match of the day, hosts Manipur rode on a Bijen Singh hat-trick to thrash Pondichery 9-0 and finish as champions of cluster four.

Bengal striker Dipendu Biswas, who has been in scintillating form, netted thrice against a weak J & K to take his goal tally to seven from two matches. Biswas had scored four goals when his team drubbed Rajasthan 7-0 in their tournament opener.

Surya Bikash Chakraborty and Anupam Sarkar got the other goals for the winners in the one-sided match.

Seizing the initiative from the outset, Bengal went into the lead in the fourth minute through Biswas, who again found the target 21 minutes later to make the scoreline 2-0 at the breather.

Bengal maintained the tempo in the second-half, and Chakraborty showed fine opportunism to score in the 65th minute.

The goal left the J & K team completely demoralised and the Bengal forwards yet again came calling at the rival goal mouth with Biswas increasing the margin in the 68th minute.

Sarkar then shot home in the 84th minute to make the final tally 5-0.

Winners of the 1999-2000 edition, Maharashtra needed a draw to make it to the quarters on better goal difference, but a scintillating display by Aziz Quereshi saw them emerge on the winning side.

After a blank first-half, Quereshi put Maharashtra ahead five minutes after the lemon break. Anthony Fernandes then made it 2-0 with a left-footer that bewildered Meghalaya's goalie Aibor Myrchiang, in the 65th minute.

Meghalaya fought back into the game with goals from Sam Kharbhih, in the 70th minute, and right-back Freeddy Kharpran, in the 72nd minute.

But substitute Altafuddin Ahmed struck for Maharashtra in the 76th minute to take the match away from Meghalaya.

Maharashtra were unlucky not to get their third goal earlier as substitute Mohammed Rizwan's shot ricocheted off the post.

Maharashtra play the winner of the Sikkim - Services match on October 25.

The scorers for Manipur were L Tiken (4), Bijen Singh (3), I Nilakumar and Sanatan Singh (one each).

Complete Coverage: Santosh Trophy 2002