KOLKATA: Mohun Bagan progressed to their first Durand Cup final in 15 years after beating debutantes Real Kashmir 3-1 in the second semifinal at Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krigangan on Wednesday night.
The game was forced into extra time after Gnohore Krizo scored a thumping header in second-half stoppage time taking the scores to 1-1 at full time after Salva Chamorro given Mohun Bagan the lead in first-half. Nonetheless, Substitute Suhair VP scored in the each half of extra time to send Mohun Bagan to the finals for the first time since 2004.
Mohun Bagan will face off with Gokulam Kerala in the final on Saturday.
Mohun Bagan started the game with the confidence that had seen them finish the group phases top of Pool B ahead of Mohammedan SC and ATK. Joseba Beitia was pulling the strings in midfield dictating the tempo of the game.
For the first time in this tournament, Real Kashmir looked really uncomfortable and were forced to passing mistakes by the high pressing Mohun Bagan who seemed to have done their homework on the debutantes.
Whenever Real Kashmir had the ball, Mohun Bagan pressed high, shutting spaces between them and making it difficult for them to play their usual passing game.
That’s not to say Real Kashmir didn’t have their chances. There were several occasions when they broke past the backline and threatened 1v1 with Mohun Bagan custodian Sankar Roy, however were either snapped for offside or failed to be as lethal as they needed to be in front of goal.
Inevitably, failing to convert their chances came back to haunt Real Kashmir as Mohun Bagan took the lead in the 42nd minute after Gurjinder Kumar crossed the ball brilliantly with his left foot to Salva in the middle, who controlled it amazingly with his right and shoot with the same foot to make it 1-0
Mohun Bagan’s spirits were lifted by the goal and they played out the final moments of the first-half with a lot of energy, which they brought with them when they returned from the break.
But they weren’t the only ones. Determined to make a comeback, Real Kashmir fought hard to not only keep themselves in the match but to try and find a goal which would tilt them back in contention.
Unfortunately the front line continued to fire off-target while Mohun Bagan started to establish a comfortable rhythm whenever they found themselves in possession making it tough for their opponents to impose their game.
While Mohun Bagan were looking good to claim their place in the final tournament, Real Kashmir kept their composure and concentration, earning an equalizer in stoppage time through Krizo’s thumping header at the back post off an Loveday Enyinnaya cross to send the game into extra time.
In the extra time, Mohun Bagan tore a piece off Real Kashmir’s script, responding within just three minutes into the first-half of extra time though Suhair, who scored from Fran Gonzalez’s pass to regain the lead for the Mariners.
Mohun Bagan then put the game to comfortable distance in the 112th minute into the second-half after Suhair swept home a pass from Gonzalez after the Real Kashmir defense failed to clear.