Fed Cup: Mohun Bagan to face Bengaluru FC in final

Cameron Watson of Bengaluru gave his side the lead in eighth minute after Alwyn George was brought down inside the box.   -  K. Bhagya Prakash

Mohun Bagan defeated East Bengal 2-0 in an entertaining semifinal to book a berth in the Federation Cup title clash at the Barabati Stadium here on Sunday. Bagan will meet Bengaluru FC in the final on May 21. Bengaluru ended I-League champion Aizawl FC's dream run by securing a 1-0 win and entering the final.

The Kolkata derby in front of 5000 fans, most of whom made overnight journey to support their respective teams, presented some gripping action.

East Bengal surprised Bagan with its energetic attacks early on. Willis Plaza bungled a big chance off a Mohammad Rafique cross, while Rafique's superb header and Rowlin Borges' 30-yarder were collected by a composed Debjit Majumdar in front of the goal.

Bagan grabbed the lead against the run of play. Sony Norde, who had seen his powerful and well-directed free-kick being saved by a diving Subhasish Roy Chowdhury, supplied a precise pass into the box from left and Daryl Duffy headed it in to break the deadlock in the 35th minute. East Bengal created some chances after the change of ends but Debjit - who held firm despite a collision with Plaza - and his colleagues in defence denied any leeway to the red-and-gold shirts.

Balwant Singh's 84th minute strike off a Katsumi Yusa cross from right drove away the East Bengal fans.

I-League champion knocked out

It was a show of character from Bengaluru which played to its plan against Aizawl despite missing its key striker Sunil Chhetri due to a muscle injury. Bengaluru displayed patience to be in control in the sultry weather. It struck early when Cameron John Watson converted a penalty after Alwyn George was brought down inside the box. Bengaluru defenders, led by the well-built John Johnson, moved well to close the gaps and used their height to make quick clearances. Juan Fernandez's fabulous interception to stop Bayi Kamo inside the area was a bright example of Bengaluru's determined effort.

Despite playing its first day match, Aizawl, which struggled with its finishing, fought bravely to provide a sensational end to the slow-paced contest.

In the 97th minute, Bayi Kamo was felled and Aizawl got a much-needed penalty. However, Bengaluru goalkeeper Amrinder Singh dived to his right to block Ralte's grounded shot.

The results (semifinals): Bengaluru FC 1 (Watson 8) bt Aizawl FC 0; Mohun Bagan 2 (Duffy 35, Balwant 84) bt East Bengal 0.

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