Mahindra to face Churchill in Durand Cup final

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New Delhi, Nov 5 (UNI) Mahindra United held on to their nerves to prevail over Salgaocar 4-2 via penalty shootout to set up a title clash with Churchill Brothers in the 120th Osian's Durand Cup football tournament here today.

In a fast-paced semi-final match, which though never rose to great heights, the two sides failed to score in the regulation and extra times.

In the tie-breaker, Yusuf Yakubu, Harpreet Singh, Douhou Djidja Pierre and Sunil Kumar scored for Mahindra. Felix Chimaokwu and Joe Rodrigues scored for Salgaocar while captain Rocus Lamare and Shylo Malswamtlunga missed the target.

For Mahindra, Wednesday's final would be their fifth appearance in the summit round. They had won the title in 1998 and 2001 while finishing second best in 1990 and 2000.

Churchill, on the other hand, had never won the tournament and their best performance was in 2001 when they lost to Mahindra.

Mahindra, who had made it to the last four round via penalty shootout against Sporting Clube de Goa in the quarter final, were the better side against Salgaocar but their forwards failed to make the finishing touches.

The jeepmen were also denied by the woodwork twice in the first half.

Man-of-the-match Yusuf Yakubu's powerful shot in the 36th minute hit the left post and came back to play before K Ajayan's header, connecting a Sunil Kumar cross from near the right corner, fell near the goaline after hitting the right upright and cleared by a defender.

Salgaocar seldom got a clear look at the Mahindra goal in the match though Felix Chimaokwu made occasional forays into rival citadel. His best effort in the first half was a long range right footer from around 25 yards which missed the bar by a few inches.

The second half also had nothing much to write about except Mahindra enjoying better exchanges but not being able to create scoring chances.

Izumi Arata, the PIO from Japan, had a half chance early in the second session (53rd minute), but his difficult running left footer from an acute angle was palmed away by Salgaocar goalkeeper Marcus Basumatari.

Both the sides looked exhausted in the extra time and there were few actions in front of goal before penalty shootout decided the fate of the match.

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