Kolkata, Sep 27 (IANS): Century-old local favourites Mohammedan Sporting (MDSP), overcame FC Bengaluru United (FCBU) 4-2 in extra-time in the semi-finals of the 130th Durand Cup at Kolkatas Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (VYBK) on Monday, to make their sixth finals of the iconic tournament.
Goals from Marcus Joseph, Faisal Ali, Brandon Vanlalremdika and Nikola Stojanovic made sure the Black Panthers' quest for a third Durand Cup title remained alive, despite a shock start to the match which saw FCBU talisman Pedro Manzi give his side the lead as early as 22 seconds into the game.
The score-line in the end was a bit flattering for Sporting with United ending the game with 10-men. The match ended 2-2 in 90 minutes of regular time and Sporting scored once in each half of the extra-time to achieve a result that the close to 25000 local fans at the stadium wanted.
MDSP manager Andrey Chernyshov went in with his trusted eleven and 4-4-2 formation in front of the vociferous local supporters. Richard Hood the FCBU coach, started with a similar formation but gave a first start of the tournament to Anup Theres Raj at left back. Sanju Pradhan also started on the bench.
It could not have started on a better note for United as a move down the right flank involving Yumnam Gopi Singh straight after kick-off finding Manzi in space on top of the box. He was given a second bite of the cherry by the Sporting defence and made no mistake with a booming drive, giving keeper Zothanmawia no chance.
The Black Panthers were stung and responded with ferocity. Milan Singh had the first good shot at goal but it was the inimitable Trinidadian Marcus Joseph, who was destined to equalize for Sporting.
It was another one from the left of the box cutting across the keeper with his left foot. It was his fifth goal in this edition of Durand Cup, putting him in running for the golden boot for the second year running.
The Mohammedan attack line led by Serbian Nikola Stojanovic and ably supported by the likes of Azharuddin Mallik, Sk. Faiaz, Faisal and Marcus Joseph were displaying some slick football and stitched together quite a few attractive moves.
From one such move, Marcus Joseph found Faisal in the clear inside the box on the left and the youngster came up with a clinical finish, beating Kunzang Bhutia for the second time in the game.
The second-half began as the first had ended with MDSP looking to take most of the initiatives. Quite against the run of play then, Kingshuk Debnath, a local boy, got Bengaluru back in the game, slotting home from a melee off a corner.
However with minute into added time, Manzi was shown red after a second bookable offence forcing Hood into bringing in team fitness coach cum player Chelston Pinto to help his team fight through 30 minutes of extra time.
The change which made all the difference though was the one made by Chernyshov in the 83rd minute when he had brought on the pacy Brandon Vanlalremdika to replace Sk. Faiaz on the right.
The diminutive winger peppered the 10-man United defence in the second half with Stojanovic providing him ample support and supply.
In one such move in the dying stages of the first 15 minutes of extra-time, the Serbian found him in the clear inside the box. The Mizo had quite a bit to do with two defenders challenging him. He shrugged them off with two deft body feints, first inside then outside and unleashed a grounder with pin-point accuracy to beat Bhutia.
The final goal of the contest was fittingly scored by Stojanovic who blasted a penalty past Bhutia in the 110th minute of the game for a resounding score line for the local team.