Albanian Armando Sadiku overcame his poor form to inspire Mohun Bagan to a 2-1 win over FC Goa in the Durand Cup semi-final on Thursday.
The win paved the way for the fairy tale Durand Cup final on ‘Super Sunday’ as it set up Mohun Bagan’s derby match against arch-rival East Bengal in a repeat 2004 final.
A compact and defensive FC Goa made the first impression with a 23-minute goal from Moroccan midfielder Noah Sadaoui.
Mohun Bagan took the penalty to restore parity when Jason Cumming scored from the penalty spot in the 42nd minute in what appeared to be a controversial call by referee Ashwin.
Four minutes after replacing Hugo Boumous, Armenian substitute Sadiku overcame criticism to score the most important goal of his career for the Mariners. He took advantage of Sandesh Jhingan’s screamer to score the lead – and ultimately the winner – in the 61st minute.
Ferrando strengthened his defense in the final minutes, bringing on Brendan Hamill and Liston Colaco to stem the tide of attacks from the Goans.
Goalkeeper Vishal Kaith is also credited for saving a solid goal when he saved Jay Gupta’s header in the 90th minute.
This is Mohun Bagan’s first Durand Cup final after 2019 when they lost to Gokulam Kerala.
Also in 2004, Mohun Bagan lost to East Bengal 1-2. They are yet to win silverware since 2000 when they beat Mahindra United by a golden goal.
Both Mohun Bagan and East Bengal have won the Durand Cup 16 times.
The Gaurs coached by Manolo Marquez looked much superior in both midfield and defense, with a compact style of play.
FC Goa coach had a defensive strategy against the home team, putting 5 people in the backline with Spaniard Odei Zabala, Seriton Fernandes coordinated seamlessly with the defense with Jhingan, Jay Gupta and money. Defensive guard Car McHugh.
On the other hand, Juan Ferrando plays in a 4-1-4-1 formation with striker Jason Cummings.
Ashish Rai returns to replace Manvir Singh, while Sadiku sits on the bench, making room for Dimitri Petratos ready to return.
FC Goa also applied pressure early on and looked to take the lead with Victor Rodriguez’s accurate free kick. However, Mohun Bagan’s defense was able to clear the ball.
Mohun Bagan’s first chance came in the 17th minute when Petratos’ well-directed shot from Boumous’s square pass was saved by Goa goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh.
The impressive Boumous turned out to be the villain as his misplaced pass from midfield gave the Gaurs an early opener.
Sadaoui seized the opportunity with utmost composure as he took the lead, while defense Mohun Bagan made a half-hearted effort before overtaking Kaith.
Goa could have easily gone 2-0 up in the 38th minute when Subhasish Bose appeared to have put the ball into the box following an attack by Sadaoui but a penalty appeal was turned down.
Moments later, luck smiled on the Mariners as the referee awarded a penalty kick to the home team in what appeared to be an unclear decision.
Ashique Kuruniyan was tackled by Jay Gupta just outside the box before midfielder Mohun Bagan fell inside and the referee awarded a penalty.
Cummings, shooting with his left foot, made no mistake to eventually get past Dheeraj for the equalizer.