Mohun Bagan in Durand final

Defending champions Salgaocar went down 4-5 on penalties to Mohun Bagan in the first semi-final of the Durand Cup football tournament today.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:04 IST
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New Delhi:

Defending champions Salgaocar went down 4-5 on penalties to Mohun Bagan in the first semi-final of the Durand Cup football tournament today. Salgaocar's striker Felix Ibrebru first missed a controversial penalty in the 70th minute of the match and then again messed up the last penalty kick in the tie-breaker after the two teams were locked goalless during the regulation time and 30 minutes of extra time. Substitute Zehry Jirsanga, Mehtab Hossain, Sunil Chetri, Dulal Biswas and Dharamjit Singh converted the spot kicks for Bagan while Bello Razaq, Jothi Kumar, Fredy Mascarenhas and Samson Singh (both substitutes) scored for Salgaocar. Exciting battle It was an exciting battle at the Ambedkar Stadium between the Goans and Bagan. The Bengal club was bolstered by the return of Tomba Singh and Jirsanga to make up for the absence of Brazilian Eduwardo Chacun, who had to sit out after picking up two yellow cards. Both Salgaocar and Bagan messed up a number of chances but the Kolkatans attacked with more vigour after the introduction of Tomba in the 36th minute. The exciting tempo continued after the change of ends with the two African strikers Felix and Bagan's James going close to opening their account. In the 68th minute, Salgaocar forced a corner and the flag kick was flicked on by Felix to Bello. The Salgaocar skipper went up in the air but missed the ball and came tumbling down. Referee Ashokan was in perfect position and he pointed to the spot ruling that one of the Bagan player had pushed Bello. Bagan players protest The Bagan players just could not digest a penalty at this late stage and led by goalkeeper Subrata Pal chased the referee who had to run back to the half-line. The maroon and green brigade also had the support of nearly 10,000 supporters as they booed and hurled abuses at the match officials. Felix managed to fire his shot straight at the keeper and the moment the shot was saved, the entire Bagan team including the bench and the partisan supporters vented all their anger at the referee. The beginning of the extra time saw Mehtab darting down the right flank and unleash a shot on the run which went inches wide. Salgaocar were down to 10 men after medio Micky Fernandes came up with a hard tackle on Bagan's star player Tomba. The Manipur player went down with a thud and the Bagan players, led by local boy Chetri, charged down to the Goan. With the crowd roaring for a red card, the referee ejected the Goan leaving Salgoacar to battle out the remaining 28 minutes. Bagan had earlier introduced Zehry in place of James and Salgoacar brought in Samson Singh looking for the all-important goal. But the Kolkatans failed to take advantage of their numerical superiority as the Salgaocar defenders Razaq, Roberto Fernandez and Bento Vaz did a tremendous job to thwart Bagan's attacks. Razaq shines Salgoacar succeeded in blunting the Kolkatan attacks with their captain Razaq doing a great job in bottling up Bagan's Brazilian striker James Agbougwu. Razaq and central defender Roberto came up with assured tackles time and again as Bagan strikers Chetri and James found the going tough. The effect was that Bagan's Dharamjit Singh and Mehtab came up with more sallies through the wings. In the 32nd minute, Hossain moved up through the right and crossed the ball inside the box where Dharamjit tried to get past Salgoacar keeper Juje Siddi and head the ball home. But the Manipuri's charge had little effect on the well-built Siddi. Soon Bello overlapped for the Goans and found Felix whose move came apart in the box. Bagan came alive with the arrival of Tomba. Five minutes before the break Bagan captain Mani Tombi Singh put Tomba through and the 'Indian footballer of the Year' came up with a dangerous cross, which Siddi managed to punch away with difficulty. Tomba was again in the spot light after Chetri earned a free kick on the edge of the box. The Delhi boy almost headed in Tomba's free kick but narrowly missed the target. Few minutes later Tomba wasted another chance when he blasted his shot wide after another combined move with Chetri. Action soon changed ends and Salgaocar players went up after a bout of brilliant passing between Razaq, Bhuwan Joshi and Rocus Lamare. Braving Tomba's stiff challenge Rocus managed a shot, which was deflected out for a corner. (PTI)