43,712 SPECTATORS gathered at Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan earlier today to witness a clash of the titans, as Mohunbagan, with more than 90% share of the aforementioned number, took on Gokulam Kerala FC in the final of Durand Cup 2019. The deafening enthusiasm of Bagan supporters was halted with a sudden silence when Gokulam Kerala FC was awarded a penalty in the 45th minute and Marcus Joseph made no mistake in converting that to a goal, giving his team a lead of 1-0.
The second half saw some more action on the field. Mohunbagan, already charged up having conceded a penalty in the first half, were looking to score an equaliser. All hopes were dashed as Marcus Joseph netted his 11th goal of the tournament, at the 51st minute, stunning the entire stadium for a couple of seconds. Mohunbagan, not a team to hand over easy victory to the opponents, bounced back in the 64th minute, as a momentary fumble from GKFC goalie Ubaid CK meant a goal for the Mariners. This came off the boots of Salva Chamorro, following a free-kick from Joseba Beitia.
Just when Gokulam thought that they could manage to seal their inaugural Durand Cup win, Jestin George was shown a yellow card for a foul. This was the second yellow card for him in this match, having faced one already (at the 29th minute). This meant a Red Card was to follow and Gokulam were down to 10 men.
Mohunbagan seemingly pulled out all the stops, looking desperately for a last moment equaliser. A chance arose at the fag end of the match, as a situation for a hand ball and thus consequently a penalty came up, although the referee did not pay any heed to the Bagan bench. However, Fran Morante who was already substituted by then, reacted hastily, eventually getting a red card in the process.
When the referee blew his whistle, for the final time in this edition of the tournament, the scoreboard displayed 2-1, in favour of the Malabarians. This meant, a recently formed club, with barely a couple of years of existence, edged past one of the giants of Kolkata football, to lift the prestigious Durand Cup for the first time.
Accolades did not stop for the team from the ‘God’s own country’. Marcus Joseph was awarded the Golden Boot for scoring the most number of goals in the tournament. He also took home the Golden Ball award for being the best player of the tournament while his teammate, Ubaid C.K, was given the Golden Gloves.
Thus the 129th edition of the Durand Cup came to an end. The tournament that started off with 16 teams, involving participation from I-League, ISL and the Armed Forces on August 2nd, happened in Kolkata for the first time.