East Bengal managed to edge past Gokulam Kerala 2-1 in the quarterfinal of the Durand Cup in Kolkata on Friday, courtesy strike from Jordan Elsey and an own goal from Aminou Bouba. East Bengal will now take on its Indian Super League counterpart Northeast United in the semi-final on Tuesday. The red and gold head coach Carles Cuadrat fielded an unchanged starting line-up from the last group game, whereas Gokulam boss Domingo Oramas Cabrera made eight changes from its last contest, bringing in all his regular starters.
East Bengal stunned Gokulam in the opening minute, as a corner kick by Borja Herrara was headed into the danger zone by Javier Siverio from the box’s edge, only to be brightly flicked into the net by Australian defender Elsey.
Despite the early setback, the Malabarians played well, looking dangerous on the forward, as the Torch Bearers defended deep and played in transition.
EBFC came close to doubling its lead via another corner, but Saul Crespo’s right-footed effort bounced back off the crossbar.
Also, Alejandro Sanchez Lopez forced a brilliant save out of East Bengal keeper Prabhsukhan Singh Gill, keeping the lead in place during the break.
Following the restart, Kerala displayed more intent in the hunt for its equalizer, as it controlled the midfield, thus putting pressure on the opponent’s defence.
The equaliser ultimately arrived in the 57th through a header from Aminou, as K Abhijith’s cross from the left was powerfully netted in by Aminou, with Prabhsukhan barely moving from his place.
Cleiton Silva was brought in for East Bengal to increase the attacking intensity and produced a half-chance to score, only to be denied by Gokulam goalie Zothanmawia.
East Bengal dominated with better ball possession, which put pressure on the Malabarian defence, while the former restored their lead in the 77th.
As Nishu Kumar darted the ball, it was unfortunately deflected into his own net by Aminou.
Making the most of the opportunity, EBFC defended well for the rest of the phase.
Although Edwin Sydney Vanspaul tried to test the Kerala keeper with a long-distance crack in the closing minutes, Cleiton Silva came close to scoring the winner in injury time, only for his header to go wide.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)