East Bengal reaches Durand Cup final after 19 years after 5-3 win on penalties against NorthEast

Goals from Mahesh Singh and Nandhakumar Sekar helped the Red and Gold Brigade comeback from two goals down and win the tie on penalties at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan on Tuesday.

Published : Aug 29, 2023 20:19 IST , Kolkata - 1 MIN READ

East Bengal players celebrating a goal during the Durand Cup 2023 semifinal clash against NorthEast United FC.
East Bengal players celebrating a goal during the Durand Cup 2023 semifinal clash against NorthEast United FC. | Photo Credit: Durand Cup Media Team

East Bengal players celebrating a goal during the Durand Cup 2023 semifinal clash against NorthEast United FC. | Photo Credit: Durand Cup Media Team

Nandhakumar Sekar was the saviour once more as Emami East Bengal (EBFC) came back from the brink of defeat to beat 10-man NorthEast United FC (NEUFC) 5-3 via a penalty shoot-out in the first semifinal of the 132nd Durand Cup at the Salt Lake Stadium here on Tuesday.

The Chennai-born winger, who made a move from Odisha FC to East Bengal this season, scored late in second-half injury time to make it 2-2 for his side and then scored the final goal in the shoot-out to see his team through to the final of the tournament after a break of 19 years.

Spanish defender Michel Zabaco put NEUFC ahead in the first half before Phalguni Singh doubled the lead early in the second half (57th minute).


East Bengal reduced the lead through Naorem Mahesh Singh, after his attempt on goal was deflected in by Soraisham Dinesh Singh in the 77th minute before Nandhakumar nodded home the equaliser in the seventh minute of injury time.

Nandhakumar had turned the hero for East Bengal earlier in the tournament after his goal helped the side beat its traditional rival Mohun Bagan Super Giant 1-0 in the group league stage.

North East United went down to 10 men in the 96th minute when goal-scorer Zabaco was sent off following his second booking of the match.

This gave East Bengal numerical superiority which it fully utilised to bring up the equalizer and take the game to penalties.

With extra time done away with in the tournament regulations, East Bengal scored all the attempts as Cleiton Silva, Saul Crespo, Borja Herrera, Naorem Mahesh Singh and Nandhakumar found the target in the shoot-out.

Ibson De Melo, Gani Ahmed and Pragyan Gogoi found the target for NEUFC while Parthib Gogoi missed his attempt.

Parthib was particularly unfortunate as he could not find the target despite getting two chances. His first attempt was saved by the East Bengal goalkeeper Prabhsukhan Singh Gill but referee Aditya Purkayastha had it retaken as the latter had moved off his line. Parthib hit the cross-bar in his second attempt to end NEUFC hopes.

NorthEast United FC looked more assured in its game plan in the opening half and justifiably got the lead over the host, which was unable to get its act together. The Highlanders kept a nice shape and spread the game out on the flanks to keep East Bengal’s defence under continuous pressure.

The visitor converted the first good chance coming its way in the 22nd minute when Phalguni set an inch-perfect pass for Zabaco to nod home. The goal occurred following a corner that was cleared by the East Bengal defence before the diminutive winger of NEUFC found the ball to create the opening for his side.

East Bengal’s efforts to make a comeback did not look enough as NorthEast put a strong vigil in its box while trying to put the pressure back on the opposition by launching effective counterattacks.

East Bengal’s Spanish striker Javier Siverio had the chance to find the equalizer but he failed to connect to Mandar Rao Desai’s cross properly.

The change of ends continued to see the Highlanders maintain their hold on the action and they doubled the lead in the 57th minute when Phalguni Singh showed his finishing ability with a nicely placed angular attempt that beat the East Bengal goalkeeper Prabhsukhan Singh Gill at the far post.

After conceding the second goal, East Bengal coach Carles Cuadrat introduced a couple of changes on the hour mark to spruce up the team’s attack.

The move, which included bringing up its previous season’s highest scorer Cleiton Silva, proved beneficial as East Bengal started making effective attacks in the final 15 minutes where it produced a fine essay of attacking football.

The Result:
NorthEast United FC 2 (Zabaco 22, Phalguni 57) drew with East Bengal 2 (Mahesh Singh 77, Nandhakumar 90+7); East Bengal won 5-3 on penalties
Sign in to unlock all user benefits
  • Get notified on top games and events
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign up / manage to our newsletters with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early bird access to discounts & offers to our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide to our community guidelines for posting your comment