July 25, 2003
East Bengal advanced to the final of the Asean Club Football Championship pipping Indonesian league champions Petrokimia Putra 8-7 via sudden death here today, in the process becoming the first Indian club to make it to the title clash of an Asian-level event.
The teams were locked 1-1 at the end of regulation time with East Bengal equalling through Baichung Bhutia in the 58th minute which nullified a Putra goal struck in the 22nd minute.
Press trust of India
India under-18 team finished their engagements in the second tier of the Milk Cup soccer championship in Northern Ireland losing 1-2 to Argentine side River Plate yesterday.
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The Indian colts, who earlier narrowly missed a place in the last eight of the premier category of the tournament, had to settle for an outing against the Argentine side in the quarterfinal of the secondary B T Trophy.
The Indians, who caused a sensation by stunning the junior side of celebrated Ukrainian outfit Dynamo Kiev 2-1 before getting past North Ireland’s leading youth club 2-0 in the qualifiers, looked fatigued against the Latin Americans.
The Indians had to play on three successive days, beginning Monday when they lost to Preston North End of UK 0-1 in the lung opener. Preston North end later won all their matches to march into the quarters.
In an absorbing match that saw East Bengal’s fortunes fluctuate, the two teams failed to score in the 30 minutes golden-goal extra time. The penalty shootout that followed also finished on level terms 4-4 with both teams missing once.
And then in the sudden death, East Bengal scored through Brazilian Douglas de Silva, Surkumar Singh and M Suresh. But Putra’s Joko missed their third kick as his weak shot went straight to East Bengal custodian Sandip Nandy, stunning the thousands of home supporters.
After key defender Mahesh Gawli’s exit in the 86th minute, red carded after picking up two yellow cards in the space of five minutes, East Bengal fought bravely defending with 10 men through the remaining period of regulation time and two halfs of extra time.
In the penalty shootout, East Bengal almost went out when Malsawma missed the fourth kick but as luck would have it the Putra player who took their fifth kick blasted the ball wide giving another lease of life to the Kolkatans. The four other Putra players were on target and so were East Bengal’s Bhutia, Bijen Singh, skipper Suley Musah and Chandan Das.
Earlier, East Bengal began with Mike Okkoro, playing his first match of the touranment, in place of Debjit Ghosh who was badly injured in the quarter-final win against another local side Persita Tangerang.
Twenty minutes into the match, East Bengal conceded their first goal courtesy a blunder by ’keeper Nandy.
Taking a goalkick, Nandy, who had a superb tournament coming into this match, stepped out of the box resulting in an indirect free kick for Petrokimia from the edge of the box. No. 11 Jayaneel Ujwaan deposited the ball in the right corner of the net spotting that Nandy was rooted to the left post. he ’keeper, who looked upset with his mistake, watched in dismay as the stadium erupted in applause.
Bhutia made amends for all his earlier lapses with a gem of goal he scored in the 58th minute. Surkumar dashed down the right flank and switched it to Sasthi Duley, who, advancing through the left found an unmarked Bhutia right in the middle of the box.
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