East Bengal’s hopes of making it to the AFC Cup final were dashed by defending champion Kuwait SC, which overwhelmed the host 3-0 in the second leg of the semifinals at the Salt Lake Stadium here on Tuesday.
Kuwait scored through Rogerio Coutinho, Hadi Khamees and Fahad Awad to win 7-2 on aggregate after the Kuwaiti side won the first leg 4-2. Both teams were reduced to 10 men after Hadi Khamees and Arnab Mondal got the marching orders at different stages of the game.
The host defence, which had successfully thwarted the visitors’ attacks for most part of the opening session, let its guard down as half-time approached and Kuwait SC made the most of it by firing home two goals in the space of two minutes.
The Kuwait team’s Brazilian striker Rogerio stunned the home defenders with a lightning run through the centre and finished with an angular shot.
The goal changed the complexion of the game and Kuwait SC doubled the lead when striker Khamees found the target in the 44th minute.
Khamees’s celebration was, however, short-lived as he had to leave the field in the next minute after getting a red card for kicking East Bengal’s Nigerian defender Uga Okpara. The numerical disadvantage hardly mattered as the visiting side continued to dominate.
East Bengal’s attack wilted in the face of some tight defending by the Kuwait side. The hosts’ attacking duo of Nigerian Edeh Chidi and South Sudanese James Moga was mediocre and never really threatened the opponents.
The only notable effort came from Moga in the 24th minute when the striker managed a touch off a Cavin Lobo assist, but Kuwait goalkeeper Musab Alkandari parried the attack.
Lobo and Lalrindika Ralte tried a couple of long-rangers in the second half, but Alkandari proved equal to the task, blocking both their efforts.
East Bengal’s frustration was compounded in the 66th minute when Mondal was shown the red card. He brought down Rogerio just as the Brazilian threatened to break free outside the East Bengal box.
Fahad Awad piled on the agony for East Bengal by scoring three minutes from time.
The result: Kuwait SC 3 (Rogerio Coutinho 42, Hadi Khamees 44, Fahad Awad 87) bt East Bengal 0.