Mohun Bagan defeated Kingfisher East Bengal 2-0 in the semi-finals of the Hero Federation Cup at the Barabati Stadium in Cuttack, Odisha today.
Darryl Duffy’s 35th-minute header and Balwant Singh's 84th-minute strike proved to be the difference between the two sides as the defending Champions progressed to the Final of the Hero Federation Cup where Bengaluru FC wait for the challenge.
It was a bright start for Kingfisher East Bengal in the semi-finals and the Red and Golds could have taken the lead as early as the 8th minute when Plaza failed to tap home from close range after Rafique had found the Trinidad & Tobago forward in the box. Three minutes later, Rafique himself saw his header from inside the box being denied by a fine Debjit save.
There were more bright spots for Kingfisher East Bengal but the Red and Golds failed to capitalise on them. In the 16th minute Rowllin Borges’s shot earned a good save by Mohun Bagan’s custodian Debjit Majumder and seven minutes later Wedson came close to drawing first blood when his shot from distance curled inches over the goal.
For Mohun Bagan, the first real attempt at goal came in the 25th minute when a Sony Norde free-kick was parried away for a corner after Darryl Duffy was brought down. Sanjoy Sen’s men grew into the match and took the lead in the 35th minute when Darryl Duffy’s deft header off a Sony Norde cross crept into the back of the net.
Kingfisher East Bengal dominated possession and shots on goal, but the Red and Golds had nothing to flaunt for their prowess, while Mohun Bagan made sure that the Mariners had their finishing boots on as Bagan lead 1-0 at half-time.
Mohun Bagan’s midfield sat deep in the second half and protected the Mariner’s defence for much of the half, trying to safeguard the slender lead.
The Bagan defence too became compact and proved impenetrable for the Kingfisher East Bengal duo of Plaza and Wedson. Sanjoy Sen’s men attacked the counter and Sony Norde almost came close to doubling the lead when his shot in the 60th minute flew inches near the goal.
Three minutes later, Rafique had a golden opportunity to equalise proceedings after a long ball in the box had left the Bagan defence in tandems. Rafique, however, failed to shoot the ball home from hand shaking distance to add to Kingfisher East Bengal’s missed opportunities.
In the 78th minute, Debjit Majumder made a reflex save to deny Plaza’s header from close range. The Mariners defence line accompanied by its custodian held on for the remainder of time and Balwant Singh doubled Bagan's lead in the 84th minute when he scored after Katsumi Yusa found him in the box. The full-time scoreline read 2-0 as Mohun Bagan progressed to the final.