Arch-rivals Mohun Bagan defeated East Bengal 2-0 in a Kolkata derby to enter the summit clash of the Federation Cup football touernament at the Barabati Stadium.
Darryl Duffy’s 35th-minute header and Balwant Singh’s 84th-minute strike proved to be the difference between the two sides as the defending champions progressed to the final, where Bengaluru FC wait them.
It was a bright start for East Bengal in the semi-finals and the Red and Golds could have taken the lead as early as the eighth minute when Plaza failed to tap home from close range after Rafique had found the Trinidad and Tobago forward in the box.
Three minutes later, Rafique himself saw his header from inside the box being denied by a fine Debjit save.
There were more bright spots for East Bengal but the Red and Golds failed to capitalise on them.
In the 16th minute Rowllin Borges’ shot earned a good save from Mohun Bagan’s custodian Debjit Majumder and seven minutes later Wedson came close to drawing first blood when his shot from distance curled inches over the goal.
For Mohun Bagan, the first real attempt at goal came in the 25th minute when a Sony Norde free-kick was parried away for a corner after Darryl Duffy was brought down.
Sanjoy Sen’s men grew into the match and took the lead in the 35th minute when Duffy’s deft header off a Norde cross crept into the back of the net.
East Bengal dominated possession and shots on goal, but the Red and Golds had nothing to flaunt for their prowess, while Bagan made sure that the Mariners had their finishing boots on as Bagan lead 1-0 at half-time.
Bagan’s midfield sat deep in the second half and protected the Mariner’s defence for much of the half, trying to safeguard the slender lead.
Bagan defence too became compact and proved impenetrable for East Bengal duo of Plaza and Wedson.
Sanjoy Sen’s men attacked the counter and Norde almost came close to doubling the lead when his shot in the 60th minute flew inches near the goal.
Three minutes later, Rafique had a golden opportunity to equalise after a long ball in the box had left the Bagan defence in tandems. Rafique, however, failed to shoot the ball home from hand shaking distance to add to East Bengal’s missed opportunities.
In the 78th minute, Debjit made a reflex save to deny Plaza’s header from close range. The Mariners defence line accompanied by its custodian held on for the remainder of time and Balwant doubled Bagan’s lead in the 84th minute when he scored after Katsumi Yusa found him in the box.
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