Edges out Kalighat 4-3 in a topsy-turvy contest
East Bengal recovered from early hiccups to outlast qualifier Kalighat Milan Sangha 4-3 in a topsy-turvy contest in the concluding Group C match of the 34th Federation Cup here at the Kanchanjungha Stadium on Tuesday.
The win helped East Bengal top the group standings and enter the semifinals for the sixth consecutive time. It will take on Churchill Brothers in the first semifinal on Thursday while holder Salgaocar SC and Dempo SC face off on Friday.
Facing a side that was already out of contention, East Bengal appeared like a dishevelled bunch and drew in two early goals. Kalighat MS, which had lost to the same East Bengal side 4-0 in the local league hardly a fortnight ago, assumed giant status as Nigerian James Giblee and Tanmoy Kundu scored in the 11th and 15th minutes.
East Bengal recovered quickly and levelled the issue through Manandeep Singh, who finished two brilliant assists from the flanks in the 22nd and 28th minutes.
The response momentarily quietened the opponent, but East Bengal could not relax thanks to its dithering backline that failed to check the rush of Kalighat attacks from the flanks.
Striker Christopher Chizoba made most of the confusion to make it 3-2 for Kalighat in the 40th minute, pouncing on a loose ball. East Bengal once again responded, this time through Nigerian striker Edeh Chidi who won and scored a penalty in first half stoppage time.
Looking to make a fresh start after the break, Morgan reintroduced Okpara and Gurwinder to effectively seal the opposition incursions. This gave the side renewed focus to attack and regain its pursuit of a semifinal berth.
East Bengal made numerous forays into the opposition box and was finally rewarded when referee Rahul D’Sa awarded the second penalty of the match in the 59th minute, which was again converted by Chidi.
In the other group match, ONGC FC ended the semifinal hopes of Sporting Clube de Goa, beating the latter 2-1 at the SSB Ground — a makeshift practice venue arranged specifically for the second match following a protest by Sporting.
Group C (final round): East Bengal 4 (Manandeep Singh 22, 28, Edeh Chidi 45+2-pen, 59-pen) bt Kalighat Milan Sangha 3 (James Giblee 11, Tanmoy Kundu 15, Chirstopher Chizoba 40); ONGC FC 2 (David Lalrinmuana 17, Tarif Ahmed 89) bt Sporting Clube de Goa 1 (Dawson Fernandes 62).
Keywords: 34th Federation Cup