Guwahati: Reigning champions Bengal kicked off their Santosh Trophy campaign in style, thrashing Chhattisgarh 4-1 in their group-A quarter-final league clash at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Tuesday.
Branco Cardozo fired in a hat-trick, while Budhiram Tudu scored one in Bengal`s win. Chattisgarh`s lone strike came from an own goal through Bengal skipper Anupam Sarkar.
Bengal, the 30th time champions in the national football championship, dominated the proceedings right from the start and had no problem against the lacklustre Chhattisgarh team.
Branco brilliantly dribbled past Chhattisgarh defenders for a superb finish in the 10th minute, while United Sikkim Football Club striker struck his second in the 23rd minute.
Getting the supply from right flank, Tudu did not make any mistake to give Bengal a 3-0 lead two minutes later in the 64th edition of the national football championship.
Branco completed his hat-trick in the 83rd minute to put the match virtually out of reach of Chhattisgarh.
Three minutes before the regulation time, in a bid to clear the ball from the box, Bengal captain Sarkar netted into his own net to gift Chhattisgarh their solitary goal.
Bengal had claimed their 30th Santosh Trophy, after a gap of 11 years beating Punjab at home last year.
In a second group A match, last year`s semifinalists Tamil Nadu take on in-form Manipur, who ousted five-time champions Kerala 6-5 via sudden death in their
Group A consists of Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh and Manipur.
Group B has Punjab and Goa while the remainder two teams will be decided after two pre-quarterfinal round matches scheduled on Wednesday.
Last year`s semifinalists -- Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Punjab and Goa -- have been seeded directly into the quarter-final league stage.