Defending champion Chittagong Abahani Limited swept into the semi-final of the Independence Cup in style after handing Sheikh Russel Krira Chakra a crushing 4-2 defeat in the last quarter-final of the season ending tournament at Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka Saturday.
The line-up of the last four was finalised following the end of the game as the port city outfit will face Rahmatganj Muslim Friends Society in the second semi-final Tuesday after Lt. Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club and Arambagh Krira Sangha take on each other in the first semi-final Monday.
The big-spending Chittagong side went ahead with only nine minutes into the clock through a volley by national striker Towhidul Alam Sabuj, whose last-gasp goal in their last group match lifted the side to the knockout stage.
The delight however, lasted only four minutes as Sheikh Russel forward Mehbub Hasan Nayan equalised with a superb right-footed volley from inside the box following a low cross from Khalekuzzaman Sabuj from the left flank.
Midfielder Mohammad Sohel Rana put Chittagong Abahani ahead again four minutes later with an opportunist strike from the top of the box. Sheikh Russel were denied the equaliser in the 20th minute, courtesy a headed clearance by defender Sushanta Tripura from the goal-line.
Young winger Mohammad Abdullah extended Chittagong Abahani's lead in the 43rd minute with a spectacular free-kick from outside the top left corner of the box, which beat Sheikh Russel goalkeeper Maksudur Rahman.
Striker Shakhawat Hossain Rony headed home an Abdullah free-kick in the 45th minute to give Chittagong Abahani full control of the game before Sheikh Russel's substitute defender Mohammad Javed reduced the arrears from a goal-mouth scramble in the 74th minute.
Ctg Abahani 4
(Sabuj 9, Sohel 17, Abdullah 43, Rony 45) 2 Sk Russel
(Nayan 13, Javed 74)
Sk Jamal v Arambagh, BNS, Dhaka