Prayag United and Shillong Lajong Club recorded fine wins and entered the semifinals of the Durand Cup football tournament at the Ambedkar Stadium here on Sunday.
Prayag upset Federation Cup champion Salgaocar 2-0, while Shillong defeated United Sikkim Club 3-1 in the quarterfinal league matches.
Prayag played the waiting game nicely to outsmart Salgaocar in a Group 1 clash. Both teams were cautious in their approach in the first half. Salgaocar lacked the finishing touches as several moves from the left by the hardworking Ishfaq Ahmed were wasted.
Salgaocar nearly had the lead at the stroke of the half-time when Ryuji Sueoka's attempt hit the crossbar and went over. Prayag also had its moments in the first period when Josimar Martins failed to capitalise on a Gauranga Biswas cross just five minutes before the break. Earlier, Yasif Yakubu's shot had gone over the horizontal bar.
Second session also saw lot of misses. In the opening minutes, Chidi took advantage of a slow-moving Deepak Mandal and struck a fine shot from 30 yards to find it miss the target by a few feet. Prayag replied with an equally good move as Martins' 40-yard long-ranger failed to hit the mark.
Prayag midfield showed better cohesion as both the wingers threatened the rival defence with regular raids. Prayag replaced James Singh with Malsawmtlunga. In the 65th minute, Malsawmtlunga's curling shot was headed in by Yakubu to put Prayag ahead.
Biswas enhanced the lead four minutes later when his header off Malsawmtlunga's low and accurate corner kick beat Salgaocar custodian Karanjit Singh.
Rafique to miss semifinal
Meanwhile, one of the key players of Prayag, Rafique, was sent off in the 86th minute after he earned two yellow cards. He will miss the semifinal.
In the other match, which saw one player each from both sides being red-carded, Shillong banked on Christopher Chizoba's brace (36th and 83rd) to advance to the last four. Liberian forward James Gbilee scored the opening goal for the winning team.
Sushil Kumar Singh (44th) reduced the margin for United Sikkim.
The results: Shillong Lajong Club 3 (Christopher Chizoba 2, James Gbilee) bt United Sikkim 1 (Sushil Kumar Singh); Prayag United 2 (Yusif Yakubu, Gouranga Biswas) bt Salgaocar 0.
Keywords: Durand Cup football