Mohun Bagan Super Giant erased a goal’s deficit to beat FC Goa 2-1 in the second semifinal of the 132nd Durand Cup and moved into the final to ensure a title clash against its traditional rival Emami East Bengal for the season’s second Kolkata derby.
Goa went ahead midway through the first half when its Moroccan striker Noah Sadaoui scored with a solo effort. Mohun Bagan equalised through a penalty converted by its Australian striker Jason Cummings minutes from the break before its Albanian forward Armando Sadiku, who came in as a second-half substitute, found the winner just past the hour mark.
Mohun Bagan, which last won the title more than two decades ago in the year 2000, will now have to better East Bengal, which last won the final derby 2-1 of the same tournament in 2004 at Delhi’s Ambedkar Stadium. Mohun Bagan last played the Durand final in 2019 but lost 2-1 against Gokulam Kerala FC.
FC Goa played the aggressor and enjoyed the initial leverage, with Sadaoui keeping the Mohun Bagan defence under pressure. Sadaoui saw his first attempt in the seventh minute going over but when Mohun Bagan’s French midfielder Hugo Boumous made a miss-pass in the 23rd minute, the Moroccan striker came up with a well-taken solo effort to score a spectacular goal from distance.
Goa would have got another goal in the 38th minute when Sadaoui beat the Mohun Bagan defence once again but saw his effort saved on the line by the latter’s defender Subhasish Bose. The Gaurs made a strong call for a penalty as the Mohun Bagan defender seemed to have handled the ball, but referee Ashwin looked uninterested.
While Goa’s claim was ignored, Mohun Bagan earned a penalty a minute later.
Mohun Bagan launched a good fight-back after the early setback and used the flanks more vigorously, using the speed and efficiency of Ashique Kuruniyan. The winger was about to break into the Goa box in the 39th minute when he was challenged by defender Jay Gupta.
The referee initially pointed to a free-kick but corrected it to a penalty after consultation with his assistant on the line.
Mohun Bagan absorbed a barrage of Goa attacks after the break and then found the winner after a brilliant finish by Sadiku, who scored with a spectacular pile-driver to get his side in the winning mould.
The goal happened after the Goa centre-back Sandesh Jhingan failed to clear the ball when Mohun Bagan forward Dimitri Petratos sent a long ball on top of the Goa box. Sadiku received the ball and took a couple of touches before firing a rasping shot that gave Gaurs goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh no chance to save, despite diving at full stretch.
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