KOLKATA: East Bengal became the first team to qualify for the 122nd U-19 IFA Shield final after beating Tata Football Academy 4-1 in extra time in the first semifinal played at East Bengal Ground on Monday.
After a barren first-half, TFA took the lead in the 49th minute through Chetan Hansdah only for Suranjit Singh to restore the parity for East Bengal in the 64th minute. Thereafter, both team failed to score the winning goal in regulation time forcing the contest to be decided in extra time where East Bengal held their nerve and scored through Gurmukh Singh (114′), Dip Saha (120+1′) and skipper Jhantu Prasad (120+2′).
The match started at a furious pace with East Bengal dominating possession in the opening exchanges of the encounter and created better chances; at least three times they broke the TFA offside trap but they were unable to capitalize on the opportunities.
TFA gradually eased into the game and looked to catch East Bengal on the counter-attack, but poor finishing proved to be their downfall. They wasted a number of good opportunities to break the deadlock as the two sides went into the breather tied at goalless.
TFA upped their efforts in the second-half and found the breakthrough just four minutes into the session when Chetan easily slotted home from six-yards out to make it 1-0.
Having conceded early in the second-half, East Bengal began attacking with intensity. TFA allowed their opportunity to slip from their grasp as East Bengal grew in confidence.
TFA were unable to clear their lines after repeated attempts on goal as Suranjit crashed home an unstoppable volley to level the scoreline in the 64th minute.
Thereafter, both sides engaged in an end-to-end battle but couldn’t break the deadlock as game progressed to the thirty minutes of extra time.
The teams even failed to find a breakthrough in the first-half of extra time, however, TFA lost momentum after the break and were punished by Gurmukh who took advantage of poor positioning from TFA keeper Raj Mahato to score with a right-footed shot.
Then East Bengal, with Lalchhanhima the orchestrator, took control as TFA faded, with Dip and Jhantu added two goals in just two minutes to sum up the day.