Chukwudi Chukwuma emerged the unexpected hero scoring the equaliser in the nick of time as Sesa Goa played out a 1-1 draw with Pune FC in the last Group A quarterfinal league match and advanced to the semifinals of the 125th Durand Cup football tournament at the Ambedkar Stadium here on Monday.
In another match, Dodsal Mumbai bullied Punjab Police into submission with a 6-0 victory, after leading 2-0 at half-time.
The match between Pune and Sesa failed to rise above mediocrity. The teams showed some urgency only when it was signalled that they had eight minutes of injury time, a lot of which was owing to Sesa goalkeeper Jerson Pereira being injured twice, and subsequently being replaced by Neves Fernandes midway through the second half.
Skipper Jeje Lalpenkhlua came up with a sliding shot close to the goalmouth following a precision cross from substitute Pierre Douhou in the second minute of injury time to fetch Pune’s goal.
The joy was short-lived as Chukwudi found the equaliser with a smart header. Chukwudi, son of the team coach Ckifford Chukwuma, was off colour through the match, and perhaps the Pune team took him lightly, and paid the penalty.
Sesa pulled through to the semifinals, as it had beaten CRPF in the other league match, while Pune had drawn its encounter against the Policemen.
In the other match, Dodsal was just too good, as it slammed in two goals in the first five minutes to get into the driver’s seat.
Mohammed Rafi slotted in the first goal in the first minute with a diagonal drive from the right, while K. Thoi Singh capitalised on a rebound in tapping home for the second goal, after Paresh Shivalcar and Demba Diakhate had done the ground work.
The Mumbai team accelerated in the second half in search of more goals. Mohammed Rafi nodded in a header following a measured flag-kick from Sunil Kumar for the third goal in the 18th minute of the second half and that opened the floodgates.
Three minutes later, N.P. Pradeep made it look easy as he dribbled past goalkeeper Parmajit Singh for the fourth goal. Mohammed Rafi set up the next goal with a crisp header and K. Thoi Singh gently tapped the ball in past an onrushing goalkeeper from an acute angle.
In a 15-minute flurry, Dodsal found its sixth and last goal, as Nawab Zeeshan Rahman unleashed a sharp half-volley on the run after Rabindra Ghosh had placed the ball in his stride.
Dodsal will play the winner of Group B — qualifier Assam Rifles or ONGC — in the semifinals.
The results: Pune Club 1 (Jeje Lalpenkhlua) drew with Sesa Goa 1 (Chukwudi Chukwuma); Dodsal Mumbai 6 (Mohammed Rafi 2, K. Thoi Singh 2, N.P. Pradeep, Nawab Zeeshan Rahman).
Tuesday’s matches: Pailan Arrows v Air India (1.45 p.m.), Sporting Clube de Goa v ONGC (3.45 p.m.).
Keywords: 125th Durand Cup football tournament