Mohun Bagan in Durand semis

Mohun Bagan and Sporting Clube-de-Goa made it to the semifinals of the Osian's Durand Cup football in New Delhi on Thursday.

updated: February 25, 2007 11:34 IST
  • Total Shares

New Delhi:

Kolkata giant Mohun Bagan and Sporting Clube-de-Goa made it to the semifinals of the Osian's Durand Cup football championship after registering identical 1-0 victories in New Delhi on Thursday. Bagan left it literally till the last minute against Air India before Surajit Bose found the goal which helped the team top Group 'I'. Sporting made it to the last four courtesy a penalty conversion by Macpherlin Dudu in the 36th minute that sent them through at the expense of defending National Football League and Federation Cup champions Mahindra United. A draw would have been enough for Biswajit Bhattacharya's team and it looked for a long time that he would be satisfied with a point. Bagan were not prepared to risk losing this game as a 0-1 defeat would have put them in a draw of lots with Mahindras. The game had several heated moments and referee Ashok Ghosh seemed to lose control of the proceedings at crucial moments. Bagan relied heavily on Brazilian Jose Ramirez Barreto, but he was marked closely by Air India defenders who did not hesitate to get physical with him. The team from Mumbai had only pride to play for, having lost their first two matches in the quarterfinal league and coach Bimal Ghosh put his three foreign recruits on the bench, giving his fringe players a chance to impress. Early miss The Kolkata team squandered an early chance when a dangerous cross from the left by Lalkamal Bhowmik was not tackled properly by Air India keper Ethesham Ahmed. However, Chinmoy Sarkar fired wide. But that was a rare opportunity for Bagan and Bhattacharya brought in Dulal Biswas and Surajit Bose at the start of the second half for Sarkar and Dipendu Biswas. That brought some penetration in the attack and Bagan came close in the 63rd minute when a header from Surajit was blocked by Ahmed before tipping over a looping effort from Bhowmik. At the other end, a long shot from Narendra Metei was acrobatically saved by custodian Sangram Mukherji. Bagan were thwarted again when a Bhowmik corner found Barreto's head, but his effort was blocked by teammate Suman Dutta. But it was getting increasingly clear that the Brazilian was struggling to cope with the constant physical attention of Air India defenders and sighting a slight limp in his star player's gait, Bhattacharya replaced him with Ayan Choudhury. That proved to be the masterstroke as in the 90th minute, Choudhury's cross into the six yard box was headed in powerfully by Surajit Bose, who reached the ball before Ahmed. The fact that the goal was created by two of his substitutes must have gladdened the coach's heart. "We were always going for a win. Teams of the stature of Mohun Bagan can never be satisfied with a draw," Bhattacharya said. (PTI)