Special Correspondent

FARIDABAD: The surrounding was familiar for Bengal; rain and slush and then the score line that was a throwback to the golden days when it would crush the opposition ruthlessly.

The 8-1 verdict that marked Bengal's win over Rajasthan in a cluster III contest of the National football championship for the Santosh Trophy only highlighted the depths that Rajasthan has plummeted to.

Venue shifted

Earlier, heavy rains forced the shifting of venue from the Sector XII stadium to the Nahar Singh Stadium. The match scheduled to start at 8.30 a.m. eventually began at 3.30 p.m. The match could take place after some commendable job by the ground staff.

At Gurgaon, Haryana beat Pondicherry 3-0 in cluster I. The scorers for Haryana were Habeeb Khan, Sunit Mishra and Praveen Arora. Bengal, of course, dominated right through, much to the "satisfaction" of coach Prasanta Banerjee. Vimal Pariyar, a much under-rated striker, slotted in four goals in a row after Bengal had scored once each through Sasthi Duley and Suman Dutta before a brace by Tarif Ahmed took the wind out of the Rajasthan ranks.

The striking feature of Pariyar's performance was his anticipation and positioning, giving him enough time to direct his shots past the hapless goalkeeper. His first goal came from a deft deflection from a flag kick floated in by Gurunga Dutta. Prasad was a defenceless spectator as Vimal headed in a cross, stabbed in another and tapped in to complete his tally.

Duley had orchestrated Bengal's precision play in the first half when Rajasthan yearned for possession. He set the tempo by capitalising on a defensive error to open the scoring. And then came a brilliant move by Bijoy Basfore, who overlapped and rolled the ball back for Suman Dutta to score from the top of the box. The next two strikes came from Ahmed, who pounced on a fumble by Prasad and then found himself unmarked to make the most of a Gurunga Dutta square pass.

Rajasthan had a few moments to savour when veteran Gurcharan Singh tested the Bengal goalkeeper Sandip Nandy twice before setting up the lone goal for his team. His floater landed at the feet of Mahendra Chand, who rolled the ball square for an onrushing Shakir Ahmed to pack a booming drive into the far corner. On Friday, Meghalaya plays Mizoram and Uttar Pradesh takes on Andaman and Nicobar at Gurgaon, while Assam faces Sikkim and Chandigarh meets Services at Faridabad.

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