Cuttack: East Bengal became the second team to progress to the semi-finals of the Federation Cup football tournament from Group A following a 0-0 draw against I-League champions Aizawl FC at the Barabati Stadium here on Thursday.
With this draw, East Bengal finished runners-up in Group A with five points from three matches. They have set up the potential of a Kolkata derby in the semi-finals, given that Mohun Bagan have a strong chance of finishing as table toppers in Group B.
Meanwhile, Aizawl FC finished at the top of Group A with seven points from three matches.
Aizawl FC coach Khalid Jamil changed the entire 11-member line-up that registered a 2-1 win against Churchill Brothers and complacency at the back was clearly visible in the young side from the northeast in the opening minutes.
For East Bengal, Willis Plaza upfront and Wedson Anselme on the wings caused trouble at the back for Aizawl FC.
In the 10th minute, Plaza came close to giving East Bengal the lead after his header flew inches past of the 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 recouped but could only test East Bengal goalkeeper Subhashish Roy Chowdhury 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 defence prevented him from releasing the shot.
In the 48th minute, Rafique wriggled into the box but his final delivery lacked the venom for Wedson to make a clean contact on and the Aizawl 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.