New Delhi:Inspirational striker Jose Ramirez Barretto continued his fine form in the new season with a double strike to help Mohun Bagan blank JCT 2-0 and set up a semifinal clash with Mahindra United in the 122nd ONGC Durand Cup football tournament, here on Friday.
Barretto, who did not play the season opening IFA Shield in Kolkata early this month due to injury, scored in the fourth and 15th minutes in a Group II quarterfinal league match at the Ambedkar Stadium under floodlights.
The Brazilian, who was substituted by Branco Cardozo a few minutes after his second goal due to cramps on his legs, had also scored a goal in Mohun Bagan's 5-1 demolition of ONGC in their first match on Wednesday.
Mohun Bagan, who lost the IFA Shield final 0-2 to Churchill Brothers on September 12, topped Group II with six points from two wins and will take on Mahindra United in the second semifinal on Sunday.
Mahindra had beaten East Bengal 2-0 in a Group IV quarterfinal league match earlier in the day. In a fast paced match, Mohun Bagan dominated the first 30 minutes and pumped in two goals. They also wasted a spot kick taken by Lukram James Singh in the 38th minute after Chidi Edeh was brought down by JCT defender Sarbjeet Singh.
However, JCT did not give up without a fight and Sukhwinder Singh's boys had more attack and ball possession in the later part of first half and large part of second session.
India campers Jagpreet Singh and Baldeep Singh Junior dominated the midfield and distributed the ball well but failed to breach the Mohun Bagan backline led by national team players Deepak Mondal and Surkumar Singh.
Just as both the sides were settling down, Barretto capitalised on a defensive lapse following a scramble for the ball inside the JCT penalty area to send a right footer past goalkeeper Karanjit Singh.
His next goal in the 15th minute was a gem as the Brazillian made a solo effort from near the centre, got past defender Gurwinder Singh and sent a right footer past an advancing goalkeeper into the net.
Barretto's strike partner Chidi Edeh could have made it 3-0 next minute but he failed to place the ball into the empty net after dodging past a defender and the goalkeeper.
JCT could have reduced the margin in the 25th minute but for a diving save by Mohun Bagan goalkeeper Sangram Mukherjee. Off a free kick, Penn Ikechukwu Orji sent a fine cross from the left but Baldeep Singh Junior's header was saved at the goalmouth by Sangram diving to his left.
Down 0-2 inside 15 minutes, JCT tried to come back into the match and started strongly after the breather. The 56th minute saw Baldeep poking his toe towards the Mohun Bagan goal but Sangram made a last minute save.
However, in the counterattack by Mohun Bagan, their striker Chidi Edeh nearly scored twice in two minutes.
First his diving header was just a tad feeble to get past JCT goalkeeper in the 58th minute while his shot into the empty goal next minute after Branco Cardozo had rounded off the goalkeeper was blocked by the JCT custodian who quickly made his ground.
In the 77th minute again, Chidi's right footer off a fine pass from the left by substitute S Santa Kumar was cleared by Daljit Singh in front of goal.
Earlier, Defending champions Mahindra United rode a double strike from Mohammed Rafi to blank East Bengal 2-0 and reach the semifinal of the 122nd ONGC Durand Cup football tournament here today.
Rafi struck in the 63rd and 66th minutes to help his side earn a well-deserved win at the Ambedkar Stadium in their last Group IV quarterfinal league match.
With this win, Mahindra collected four points -- the same as Lajong FC -- but would advance to the semifinals from Group IV on better goal difference.
The loss added to the cup of woes of East Bengal coach Subhash Bhowmick who has been in the firing line after four successive losses, including today's, though his club had made it clear that he would not get the boot.
The match turned sour for Mahindra coach David Booth too as he was told to leave the bench by referee Mohd Kamil for apparently arguing with him over a decision.
The match never rose to any height till the hour mark with both the sides playing listless football even though the Mumbai side mounted more attack.
Mahindra's India right winger Steven Dias had a couple of free-kicks and sent a few curling crosses but could not bulge the East Bengal net before the breather.
East Bengal's national team player Renedy Singh had a curling right footer from just outside the Mahindra box in the 33rd minute but it missed the left post by a few yards.
Three minutes later, Mahindra captain and India midfielder NP Pradeep shot wide from near the top edge of the East Bengal box.
The match came to life after the hour mark with Mahindra pumping in two quick goals, both by Rafi. He first beat East Bengal goalkeeper Arup Debnath in an aerial contest before nodding the ball home off a pinpoint cross from the right by Dias in the 63rd minute.
Three minutes later, Rafi blasted home a low left-footed grounder after a one-on-one with substitute Susanth Mathew inside the East Bengal box.
Mahindra coach David Booth was elated with the outcome but insisted not using any foul word to the referee.
"I did not use any foul word. I was just telling him that one of our players was caught by an East Bengal player on the waist. Anyway, it was his decision and I have to live with it," he said.