Kolkata: After a lacklustre display, hosts Bengal scored a late goal to hold Delhi 1-1 in their quarterfinal group league opener of the 64th National Football Championship for the Santosh Trophy at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan.
Delhi received a solitary chance in the 39th minute and their in-form striker Tuishim Mashangva did not let it go giving them an early 1-0 lead.
Plenty of missed passes did not help Bengal, last year`s runners-up, as they looked to go down before a spirited Jayanta Sen who equalised in the 86th minute to save themselves from ignominy.
Playing under intermittent showers on the artificial turf of YBK, Bengal started their campaign casually in comparison to the quick adjustment by Delhi who came through cluster stages.
The Shabbir Ali-coached side had an opportunity in the 13th minute, but strikers Robin Singh and Tarif Ahmed failed to utilise it. Ahmed missed an open net in a one-on-one battle with Delhi goalkeeper Pronoy Roy.
TFA product Robin Singh up front was ineffective in Bengal`s scheme of things, with many missed passes.
Delhi went 1-0 up by the time Bengal managed to settle down with a corner kick resulting in a goal in what could be termed as a lapse by Bengal goalkeeper Sandip Nandy.
Nandy failed to get hold of the ball as an unmarked Mashangva headed it home to give Delhi a 1-0 lead. Bengal`s script in the second-half was no different, had it not been for the late goal by Sen.
In the 71st minute, Denson Devadas missed the target, while Sen was unlucky in the 78th when his shot was saved by Roy. But eight minutes later, Sen found the target with a powerful right-footer.
Bengal and Delhi now have one points each in their group which also has Tamil Nadu and Mizoram. Two teams will make it to the semifinal from the quartefinal group league.