Ludhiana, Sep 11 (UNI) Kolkata giants East Bengal made it to the finals of the the 29 Hero Cycles Federation Cup Football Tournament defeating twelve-time champions Mohun Bagan 3-2 in a nail-bitting semi-final match at the Guru Nanak Stadium here tonight. The two Kolkata-based big guns of Indian football enthralled the August gathereing with some classic football with East Bengal lauching two dangerous attack in the first nine minutes of the match, only to end up on a disappointing note.
In the fifth minute, Ashim Biswas' shot from a Jayanta Sen long pass was saved by Mohun Bagan custodian Sangram Mukherjee, who had the angle covered while making a brilliant sliding tackle.
Four minutes later Ashim Biswas had another chance to score, but his header of a Saumik Dey's cross from the left wing went wide.
However, it was Bagan who scored the first blood through their inspirational captain Baichung Bhutia in the 10th minute when East Bengal goalkeeper Subrata Paul, while trying to thwart a shot of Jose Ramirez Barreto slipped the ball out of his hands and Baichung made no mistake in capitalising on it.
Down by a goal, East Bengal seemed desperate to neutralise the lead and they eventually succeeded in their effort in the 25th minute through unmarked Irungban Surkumar Singh who shot the ball across the goal mouth from a Syed Rahim Nabi pass only to see a stranded Bagan keeper.
In the 35th minute, East Bengal got their second goal through substitute Dipendu Biswas who exchanged passes with Nabi before finally taking a powerful shot which went inside the goalmouth deflecting from defenders Peter Odafe's feet.
From there on it was all East Bengal as a bicyle kick from Ashim Biswas went over the bar in the 38th minute followed by Maherajuddin Wadoo's stincker of a shot from the right flank in the very next minute which was saved by a diving Bagan keeper Mukherjee.
It stayed 2-1 in favour of East Bengal at the end of the first half.
After the resumpiton of play, East Bengal capitilised on their lead in the 47th minute through Asim whoe beat two Bagan defenders Peter Odafe and Rauf Sher Khan before shooting past a hapless Bagan keeper Mukherjee.
Down and out, Bagan tried to force their way into the match through Baichung whose shot was neatly collected by East Bengal Subrata Paul in the 65th minute.
However, Bagan soon got back into the match scoring their second goal in the 71st minute through Jose Ramirez Barreto's header.
With 19 minutes left and down by a goal, the green-maroon brigade then mounted relentless pressure on their Kolkata rivals and was very close of a dramatic equaliser in the 86th minute.
Lalawmpuia's shot from a Baichung pass which was partially cleared by Subrata Paul landed on Lal Kamal Bhowmick's feet who shot the ball wide.
With only few second left, it was Subrata Paul who once again came to the rescue of East Bengal when he brilliantly saved Baichung scorching shot.
Scorers: Kingfisher East Bengal: Irungban Surkumar Singh, Dipendu Biswas, Ashim Biswas.
Mohun Bagan: Baichung Bhutia, Jose Ramirez Barreto.
Teams: East Bengal: Subrata Paul (GK), Irungban Surkumar Singh, Majekodunmi Bolaji, M Suresh, Saumik Dey, Syed Rahim Nabi, Maherajuddin Wadoo (84th, Abdul Samad), Jayanta Sen, Debabrata Roy (16th, Dipendu Biswas), Ashim Biswas, Alvito D'Cunha.
Mohun Bagan: Sangram Mukherjee (GK), Habibur Rehman Mondal, Peter Odafe, Sanjeev Kumar Maria, Rauf Sher Khan (56th P C Lalawmpuia), James Lukram Singh, Mohammed Gafari, Suman Datta (43rd, Lal Kamal Bhowmick), Dharamjit Singh, Jose Ramirez Barreto, Baichung Bhutia.
Referee: K Sankar (Tamil Nadu).
Assistant Referees: Dinesh Nair (Gujarat) and Francisco Fernandes (Goa).