Mohun Bagan, Sporting Goa reach semi-final of Durand cup
New Delhi, Nov 23 (UNI) A last minute strike by Surajit Bose ensured Mohun Bagan a 1-0 victory over spirited Air India and a semi-final berth in the 119th Osian's Durand Cup football tournament here today.
In a Group I quarter-final match, Surajit connected a cross from the right by Dulal Biswas in the 90st minute to help the 16-time champions come out unscathed and collect full points.
In the other match of the group, Sporting Club Goa prevailed over Mahindra United by an identical margin in an uneventful but evenly contested encounter to book a semi-final berth.
Macpherlin Dudu converted a penalty kick in the 36th minute following Mahindra defender Peter Siddiquis' hand ball inside the box.
Bagan now top the group with seven points from two wins and one draw while Sporting are second with six points from two wins and one loss.
Already out of the competition after two losses, Air India played for pride and was the better side in a scrappy first half which did not yield any notworthy opening.
Bagan disappointed their vociferous supporters and their star striker Jose Barreto was closely marked by rival defenders.
The only goal-bound move in the first session was in the 20th minute when Air India's Zahir Abbas sent a cross from the right which beat the goalkeeper but cleared for corner by Bagan defender Suman Dutta.
After the breather, Bagan had a close shave in the 54th minute when Air India striker Narendra Meetei's right footer from just outside the box from a Vijith Shetty pass was fisted over by an alert goalkeeper Sangram Mukherji.
But from then onwards, the Kolkata giants dominated the proceedings though there were hardly any scoring chances and the match was often reduced to physical fight on several occasions.
Lal Kamal Bhowmick made a valiant effort in the 64th minute but his well-directed header following a scramble inside the box was punched away by Air India goalie for corner.
Just as the match was heading for a draw, Dulal Biswas made an overlapping run down the right flank and sent a high cross from near the goaline which beat the goalkeeper and Surajit Bose to head it into the empty net.
Earlier, Sporting Goa played their best match so far to shut out NFL and Federation Cup champions Mahindra United from the tournament.
Needing only a draw to book a semi-final berth, the Mumbai side hardly got going and felt the absence of seven players who are training in Dubai in the run up to Doha Asiad.
After Dudu cooly placed the ball to the right of the Mahindra goalkeeper into the net in the 36th minute, Sporting defence stood firm and denied any success to their rivals till the end.
The Mumbai side, however, could have equalised just one minute after Dudu penalty kick but former India captain S Venkatesh shot over a Yusif Yakubu pass when he had only the goalkeeper to beat.
Tomorrow's matches: Dempo Sports Club Goa VS JCT Phagwara 1300 hrs Army XI VS East Bengal 1500 hrs UNI PDS SAM BD1902