Churchill Brothers produced an authoritative performance to ground 10-man Air India 4-0 in a Group B league encounter of the Federation Cup here at the Kanchanjungha Stadium on Monday.
Churchill Brothers, which remained unbeaten, topped the group and made it to the semifinals.
Needing a win to ensure its second semifinal entry in the history of the tournament, Churchill — thanks to a brilliant performance from its strikers — found goals at regular intervals to emerge as the deserving winner.
Henry Autchouet, Roberto Mendes Silva, Akram Moghrabi and Bikramjit Singh found the back of the net.
Red card for Fernandes
Churchill was further helped by the ejection of Air India captain Mickey Fernandes, who was shown a red card for a serious challenge on Beto in the 66th minute.
Churchill Brothers pressed from the start and got the breakthrough in the 22nd minute. Nigerian Henry reached to a floater from midfield and carefully protected the ball from the Air India defenders. He nodded the ball clear of an onrushing goalkeeper before slotting the ball with a deft flick.
After the break, Churchill opened up the Air India defence on couple of occasions but failed to score.
But in the 64th minute, playmaker Beto doubled the lead when he curled in a freekick past a diving Air India custodian Sukhwiner Singh.
Akram Moghrabi, who replaced Beto in the 73rd minute, headed in a cross from the flank in the 84th minute before Bikramjit Singh rounded off the scoring in the final minute of the regulation time.
At Jamshedpur, the semifinal slots were finalised in both the groups. Defending champion Salgaocar SC joined the I-League champion and Group A topper Dempo SC in the last-four stage.
Playing the concluding Group D league round at the JRD Tata complex, Salgaocar survived a stiff challenge from Pune FC before beating it 2-1.
Churchill Brothers will now take on Group C topper, which will be decided on Tuesday, on Thursday.
Dempo SC meets Salgaocar SC in the other semifinal here on Friday.
13-time champion Mohun Bagan beat Kolkata rival Mohammedan Sporting 2-1 in an inconsequential Group B league encounter.
Following a barren first half, striker Sabeeth Sathyan (50th) and midfielder Manish Maithani (53rd) struck within four minutes to give Bagan a 2-0 lead.
David Sunday (63rd) pulled one back for Mohammedan Sporting.
Mohun Bagan finished third with four points while Sporting came last with three points.
Meanwhile, a protest from Sporting Clube de Goa forced the All India Football Federation (AIFF) to make the final round matches of the Group C league a simultaneous affair.
Group B: Churchill Brothers 4 (Henry Autchouet 22, Roberto Mendes Silva 64, Akram Moghrabi 84, Bikramjit Singh 90) bt Air India 0.
Mohun Bagan 2 (Sabeeth Sathyan 50, Manish Maithani 53) bt Mohammedan Sporting 1 (David Sunday 63).
Group D: Salgaocar 2 (Luciano Sabrosa 7, Anthony D’Souza 27) bt Pune FC 1 (Douhou Pierre 12).
Prayag United FC 2 (Mohammad Rafique 2, 14) bt United Sikkim FC 0.
At Siliguri: Group C: East Bengal vs Kalighat MS; Sporting Clube deGoa vs ONGC FC (both at 3 p.m.).
Keywords: Federation Cup