East Bengal sailed into the semifinals of the 132nd Durand Cup after prevailing over former I-League champion Gokulam Kerala FC 2-1 in the second quarterfinal match at the Salt Lake Stadium on Friday.
Australian defender Jordan Elsey put East Bengal in the lead, leaving Bouba Aminou to find the next two goals. The Cameroonian defender of Gokulam Kerala first got the equaliser for his side early in the second half before scoring an own goal late in the action to seal the win for the home side.
East Bengal meets NorthEast United FC in the first semifinal on August 29.
With the match played under persistent drizzle, East Bengal showed a better adjustment to the conditions and enjoyed the edge for the greater part of the opening half.
Carlos Cuadrat’s men got the start it was looking for as Elsey nodded home the lead within 40 seconds after the kick-off. Jordan came at the end of a well-coordinated move that started from a short corner taken by Naorem Mahesh. Borja Herrera set the ball on top of the Gokulam Kerala box for Javier Siverio to nod it ahead. Elsey did well to turn the ball into the Gokulam goal to secure the early lead.
Maintaining its command over the action, East Bengal had some more good opportunities to enhance the lead. The best effort was from the Spanish midfielder Saul Crespo, who was unlucky to see his 32nd-minute attempt coming off the crosspiece.
The Malabarians worked their way in gradually and had a good chance to equalise in the 41st minute but East Bengal goalkeeper Prabhsukan Singh Gill dived to his left to save forward Alejandro Sanchez’s fine attempt.
The visitor finally got the equaliser in the 57th minute following a corner, which was sent home by Aminou, who later made the costly error in the 78th minute to deflect home a Nishu Kumar cross into his own goal to see East Bengal qualify for the semis.
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