A solid and clinical performance from Mohun Bagan Super Giant, helped by some controversial decisions from the referee, saw them complete a dramatic comeback over FC Goa with a 2-1 win in the second semi-final of the Durand Cup played at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan, Kolkata.
Jason Cummings and Armando Sadiku scored the winning goals for Bagan while Noah Sadaoui scored the only goal for the Gaurs. This win helped Bagan secure a place in the final of the tournament on Sunday against their arch-rivals, Emami East Bengal, setting up the first Kolkata Derby in a cup final since the 2010 Federation Cup.
Juan Ferrando made two changes from the last encounter against Mumbai City FC in the form of Ashish Rai and Dimitri Petratos replacing Manvir Singh and Armando Sadiku respectively. Likewise, Manolo Marquez preferred starting Jay Gupta and Victor Rodriguez, with Saviour Gama and Carlos Martinez on the bench.
FC Goa made their intentions very clear from the beginning with promising attacks as Noah Sadaoui attempted a long shot on goal in the 7th minute itself, applying pressure on the Bagan defence. This continued as Hugo Boumous made a sloppy pass, which Noah intercepted and the Moroccan slotted it past Bagan goalkeeper Vishal Kaith, putting the visitors in front.
FC Goa dominated possession of the ball and the midfield as they kept creating attacks, playing short passes via forming triangles on the pitch, making the Bagan midfield look lazy and toothless. However, then came the turning point of the match in the 38th minute, when FC Goa players appealed for a potential handball in the Mohun Bagan penalty area, only to be rejected by the referee. More drama followed as just in the next minute, the referee awarded a penalty to Bagan as the FC Goa left-back Jay Gupta fouled Ashique Kuruniyan. However, it was not clear if the foul took place inside the penalty box.
The controversial penalty decision changed the game in favour of Bagan as Cummings calmly converted his penalty in the 42nd minute. The fans were charged up as Mohun Bagan started to get some control of the game for the rest of the half. Bagan carried the momentum in the second half as they looked most likely to take the lead, creating several chances. The second half was much more end-to-end and entertaining as both teams started to play free-flowing football, aiming to take the lead.
Armando Sadiku, who came on as a substitute for Bagan, replacing Hugo Boumous, controlled a ball played to him brilliantly and beat Sandesh Jhingan to score a curler past FC Goa goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh in the 69th minute, giving Bagan the much-important lead.
Bagan started to slow the game down and started sitting deep, defending with a back five but threatened to hit FC Goa on the counter several times. Young left-back Jay Gupta showed tremendous promise, playing a very good game overall barring the foul that led to the penalty and ended up troubling Vishal Kaith on various occasions with his long shots. He forced a very good save from Vishal Kaith in the game’s dying minutes with a strong header on target.
However, it was not enough as Bagan held on fairly comfortably and secured their place in the final. After the match ended, Bagan fans celebrated with flares and fireworks, maybe as a response to the East Bengal fans, as the latter did the same after winning the semi-final, adding fuel to the much-waited “Boro Match” or the Kolkata Derby finale on Sunday.
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